Written by Kim Morrison
Cry for the Bad Man (2019) is the tale of a small-town widow facing off against three local men who are out to extort her. With that in mind, I expected something similar to films like I Spit on Your Grave (1978), and was interested to see how Cry for the Bad Man was going to offer something new to the horror revenge genre.
With a tight 74-minutes runtime, the film does not have time to mess about, and we are thrown right into the action as we open on a blood-stained bedroom. Marsha (Camille Kane) is disposing of a gun in a suitcase and cleaning up what is clearly a crime scene. We cut to six months later, Marsha is a widow, and it’s heavily hinted that her husband’s murder was the cause of our messy opening scene. With an absolutely stunning house set on heavily-coveted land, Marsha has been getting a lot of hassle from the local men to sell to the MacMohan family. Even asking the police and her pastor for advice shows that everyone in town is on the side of the MacMohans.
The three MacMohan sons visit Marsha and tell her if she doesn’t sign her land over to their father by the following night, they’ll be back, and they’re not going to play nice. Marsha is continuously referred to as an old woman who lives out in the middle of nowhere by herself, perhaps in an attempt to trick the audience into thinking she’s vulnerable and defenseless. However, something clearly went down in that opening scene, and when Marsha recovers her gun, and we discover the suitcase also contains a mugshot of a much younger Marsha, it’s obvious she can take care of herself.
The three MacMohan brothers show up at Marsha’s property at about 25 minutes into the film, and the rest of the story focuses on a stand-off between Marsha and the intruders. After diving right into the action so quickly at the beginning, it’s no surprise that we’re in what feels like third act territory after such a short period of time. However, this is where the film starts to drag quite a bit, with the battle between Marsha, the brothers, and eventually Martha’s daughter not holding enough weight to carry the rest of the movie.
The brothers, especially Wayne (Scott Peeler), who is the leader of the bunch, assume that Marsha isn’t going to put up any kind of fight, and they have nothing to worry about. During a game of poker, Wayne’s father (Mark Poppleton) points out that Wayne had been bluffing his tough-guy act his whole life, and that he’ll be in trouble if anyone ever calls him on it. And that’s exactly what Marsha does. When the brothers knock on her door, she fires at them with a shotgun without so much as a word, hitting Billy Jr (Christopher James Forrest) right in the stomach. This angers the men, with all of them particularly annoyed that it’s an older woman who has managed to get the better of them. Billy Jr is so tied up in his hatred of women that he later asks his brother to shoot him so that Marsha won’t get credit for the kill.
One major problem I had with this movie was how much time we spend following the three MacMohan brothers rather than Marsha and her daughter, Helen (Karen Konzen). I understand that Marsha is meant to be something of an enigma. We get hints of what she is capable of in that opening scene and through the quick flash of her mugshot, even though the reasons for that mugshot are not explored. Aside from that, a lot of the set-up time, and even the scenes that intercut the violence at Marsha’s house focus on the brothers, when really we learn all we need to about them when we see them bullying a widow so they can push her out of her home.
But once the action kicks off in the house, it’s clear that Marsha has the men out-skilled, and you never really believe otherwise. There’s no real threat to Marsha or Helen, and while the men suffer some horrific injuries, the women escape unscathed. It would have been nice to see the fight a little more balanced to make you think there was something at stake, instead of being so aware of the final outcome the whole time.
The film gives us some pretty cool effects with various body parts getting blown apart by a shotgun; it’s just a shame that the blood had such an unrealistic appearance. Most of the time, it was either the dark brown shade of wood stain or so watered-down that it added little to the gore.
Considering two-thirds of the runtime focusses on the battle between Marsha and the brothers, I wanted more from it. I wanted an over-the-top bloody battle that saw Marsha fighting for her life and eventually defeating her adversaries and coming out victorious. However, the characters spend more time shouting at each other down corridors and negotiating the swapping of hostages than they do fighting. Even when the battle does kick-off, the audience is so secure in Marsha’s abilities to take these men down that it just gets a little boring.
Overall, Cry for the Bad Man offers nothing new or exciting. It’s a story we’ve seen many times before, but on those occasions, it was presented in a much more interesting way. I was constantly longing for the film to kick the action up a notch, and unfortunately, I was left disappointed.
Rating: 1 out of 5