Bunnyman is a slasher film with fairly good production values and not-bad acting. It’s a … B+ movie, I would say. I did go into it assuming it would be largely entertaining just for the slasher value, and I worried that I might be falling into Birdemic territory, but since it was all just for fun, I dove in.
It wasn’t Birdemic, so that was good. And the acting was acceptable, so that was good. The way the bad guys interacted with the good guys was actually pretty cool, and the slasher effects weren’t badly done CGI but were actual models and “blood” and chain saws and all that. It was fun … except for one thing.
At no time did the protagonists actually move their stupid butts.
In the beginning, they’re being stalked by a delivery-type truck that tries to run them off this winding mountain road; the truck even rear-ends them a couple of times, and they respond in this angry-but-weirdly-leisurely manner. The cameras are positioned to feel as though the audience is driving, but the distance and speed seem to change, and to be going much slower than they are from further back. I didn’t think anything of it, since I doubt my first attempt at film would look anything half so good, and I chalked it up to the inexperience of the director.
But then the car is run off the road, and they all just … sit … there. They talk about how hot it is, how tired and thirsty and scared they are, but they don’t actually seem that upset or panicked. They don’t actually get out and do anything for a really long time. The only one who does move is also weirdly calm about it, and, of course, he’s rewarded for his proactive abilities with death (it’s a slasher film, after all). Even the bad guys are suddenly absent for long stretches of time for no particularly good reason.
The characters react to their friend’s death almost as if it didn’t happen, or as though it happened a long time ago. They finally wander away from the car in search of help, but they walk – no kidding – as though they were trying to simulate the last mile of the near-dead stumbling through a desert. I just wanted to reach through the screen, knock their heads together, and yell at them to MOVE! … not because I was worried about anything chasing them – nothing seemed to be chasing them – but because watching living beings move that slowly made me feel that my own heart was slowly winding down to a stop.
When they meandered up the path lined with bags of bones, I didn’t mind, because that’s what stupid victims in a slasher film do. But their meandering was about to drive me insane. How long does it take to walk up a road to a house, for cryin’ out loud? When they encounter a gun-toting misogynist at the house, and he threatens to kill them after offering to violate the women, I was fine – that’s what bad guys in slasher films are like. But even he was moving so slowly that I began to wonder if anyone was even alive. Perfectly good dialogue, perfectly good delivery … issued at such a slow pace that I questioned the director’s hearing, vision, and sanity.
Mosey. Mosey. Mosey. The whole film.
Even when their friends limbs are being sawed off. Even when their own limbs are being sawed off. Even when they’re “running”.
Then the two main characters escape and flee in the bad guys’ own delivery-type truck. And the woman turns to the man and says, “We’re going to need a lot of therapy.” And suddenly the camera, the one that lets us feel like we’re driving, shows us a road skimming by so fast we worry about banking that last twisty turn. The road straightens out, and the truck with its two survivors is whizzing along at top speed.
And suddenly I got it.
The whole film had been constructed as though it were a nightmare. No matter what happens, the dreamer is more of an observer than a participant, even when the bad guys are chasing him or her. Walking is a slow and ponderous task, yet distance is covered as efficiently as if the walkers are sprinting – or flying. The threatening conversations revolve more around feelings of being wrong, of being ridiculed, of being lost – the things that actually scare us, even if in our dreams we cast those fears as monsters and bunny-suit-wearing killers. The chase scenes are surreal, the meetings are disjointed, just as they are in dreams.
And when do the protagonists “wake up” and escape the nightmare? When they realize they need to get real help – therapy – from the outside: they need to face their fears instead of falling prey to them in their dreams.
So, yeah, it turned out there was a method to the director’s madness, and I ultimately decided the movie had a lot going for it. Why, it even made me feel that I was in a nightmare, which I guess is a pretty good fourth-wall break. I still wanted to reach in and knock everyone’s heads together … but now I understood why.
And as a special bonus, I found in this film one of the best exchanges I’ve ever heard. When their slow journey finally brings them to the creepy house, and the protagonists ask about the bags of bones hanging from the trees along the house’s road, the bad guy asks (slowly, of course), “Do you know whose bones they are?” They all shrug, and say, “No.” And the bad guy says, “Well, don’t worry about it then.”
So if you want to really feel like you’re in a film, and if you want to really feel like you’re in the nightmare with the characters, Bunnyman might be worth a look. It will certainly motivate you to shrug off your own hesitations and fears and procrastinations, since the whole thing boils down to one overwhelming audience response: MOVE!!