CROSS BEARER (2012) Review

Directed by: Adam Ahlbrandt
Starring: Natalie Jean, Isaac Williams, Kacie Marie

Originality and progressiveness are two things I love when I'm watching a horror film. And although these seem to be rare traits nowadays, an original concept or a twist that throws me completely off is what really gets me off. However when I sit down to watch a slasher I really couldn't give a fuck about any of that stuff. No, when I watch a slasher all I really need is some gore, a nice body count and a ruthless killer. And if there's some gritty atmosphere, sleaze and some nice boob action well then that's even better. More recent films like LAID TO REST and THE ORPHAN KILLER have delivered nicely on this front and I'm glad to say that CROSS BEARER has all of these goodies and plenty more.

Heather (Jean) doesn't exactly have the best life. In fact to put it bluntly, it fucking sucks. Her live-in girlfriend is a coke-head, her boss is a sleazy, abusive asshole and the patrons at her place of employment heckle and harass her. She desperately needs an escape plan and she thinks that she has just found the perfect opportunity. Her boss Harry not only runs the strip joint she works at but also deals drugs on the side. With a sizeable deal lined up he organizes for Heather to make the exchange and return with the cash when it's over. However Heather has other plans. In collusion with her lover Bunny (Marie) she plans to complete the deal but rather than returning to Harry with the cash the two lovers will head off to Greece to begin a new life. A perfect plan, at least in theory. But when the deal doesn't go to plan and the Cross Bearer (Williams) starts picking off his victims, Heather and Bunny's dream quickly becomes a nightmare.

Heather, Bunny and friends arrive at an abandoned warehouse where they are supposed to be meeting their buyer. This provides the film with two essential ingredients; a healthy amount of bodies and nice, big, creepy location for the villain to lurk and stalk. Little do they know however that the Cross Bearer awaits within and has already dispatched of their customer. Little is actually explained about our killer and exactly why he is the way he is but it's safe to assume that he isn't quite right in the head and religion has played an important part in his twisted mindset. He is a religious zealot who has charged himself with purifying the world of it's sinners. And how does he go about this? Why with a carpenter's hammer of course! And wearing a cloth over his head he does bring to mind a certain Jason Voorhees, although I took this to be an homage rather than just a rip-off. Either way this hooded Jesus freak gets down and dirty with his hammer.

The effects work in CROSS BEARER is quite remarkable and comes courtesy of Doug Sakmann who will also be doing effects for the upcoming RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH. And you can breathe a sigh of relief because yes the gore and effects are all practical. There's plenty of blood and brain matter splattering the walls and floor here. This movie is dark and gritty, and not just in the gore department. The locations are grimy and sleazy, (the strip club isn't exactly the Spearmint Rhino) the characters are much the same (Harry the club owner is a detestable creep) and there is plenty of cursing, drug use and sex scenes. Director Adam Ahldbrandt knows exactly what horror fan want and that's plenty of gore and plenty of sleaze.

As for acting I'd say that it's mostly average but with a particularly good performance from Natalie Jean as Heather, but since when is great acting something you look for in a slasher anyway? All of the performances are good enough that they don't detract from the viewing experience and for an indie flick that's pretty good in my book. The soundtrack is appropriate and the audio effects were nice as well. The solid sound of hammer colliding with head is infinitely satisfying.

Essentially CROSS BEARER is everything I look for in a slasher film. It's dark, gritty, sleazy and has plenty of blood, brains and boobs. Sure it's lacking in the originality department, the acting isn't the best and there may be a few other hiccups here and there but even with those criticisms I would still say that CROSS BEARER is one of the most satisfying slashers I've seen in quite some time. It's not something I'd recommend for mainstream horror fans but if you can handle everything I've detailed in this review then definitely check it out.

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