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Mike’s Review: Bitch Ass (SXSW 2022)


★★.5 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Bill Posley

Who’s ready for an early 1990s straight-to-VHS horror-filled romp in the hood? Silly caricatures? Thin and well-trod plot? A vague rip-off of 1980s slashers and a not-so subtle rip-off of the Saw franchise? If any of this sounds remotely interesting then you’re in for a treat! Bitch Ass has got it all.

From the jump Bitch Ass works to establish itself as a blood-soaked horror fright in the same vain as Blackenstein, Tales from the Hood, Def by Temptation, and People Under the Stairs. The film, somewhat underwhelmingly introduced by THE Tony Todd (AKA Candyman) in a crypt-keeper-esque performance, portends a horror anthology type theme, but Tony Todd is quickly dispensed and never seen again after his delicious introduction. A fun glimpse of things to come, but that never do come. 

Bitch Ass has several nagging problems. Among them is the title. The title comes from high school taunting in the year 1980. We’re not linguistic historians, but the term Bitch Ass, along with the clothing styles in the flashbacks to the 1980s, have a decidedly modern feel to them. But, those are only a few of the deficiencies of Bitch Ass. 

Fangoria! Woo!
That’s Mr. Bitch Ass to you!

The film, directed by actor and shorts director, Bill Posley, is very studied in its treatment of 1990s horror. Bitch Ass follows four archetypal characters as the do the bidding of the equally cliched neighborhood kingpin, Spade (Sheaun McKinney). The doughy sidekick Moo (A-F-R-O), the comedic tough girl Cricket (Belle Guillory), the hard head Tuck Kelsey Caesar), and the brainy do-gooder trying to make his way out of the hood, Q (Teon Kelley). 

Spade tells his somewhat questionable “gang” of neighborhood high schoolers that a wealthy woman down the block has recently passed away and it’s up to this quartet to break in to her house and steal whatever’s not bolted down. That and the fact that it’s “666 Night” and it’s time to do crimes. For the record, 666 Night isn’t described that well, and in fact, it’s not really described at all. Trust us 666 Night sounds cool and that’s all you really need to know. 

The problem with Spade’s devilish plan is that the old woman’s house is still inhabited by her creepy grandson, Bitch Ass (Tunde Laleye). While it’s not entirely unbelievable, we are lead to assume that Bitch Ass has been parked in the basement for 42 years toiling in his board game obsession. That’d make Bitch Ass a spry late 50s masked, but AARp eligible, serial killer. Unclear if he’s been killing for the last 40 years, but we’ll leave that for Bitch Ass II. 

Moo, Cricket, Tuck, and Q are each forced to go head-to-head with Bitch Ass in his favorite, but morbid, takes on classic board games. Games like Surgery (Operation) and Drop Four (Connect Four) are near and dear to Bitch Ass’ heart, but it’s really rock-paper-scissors that makes him tick. Turns out Q’s Mom (Me’lisa Sellers) was once a sympathetic ear in Bitch Ass’ socially awkward teen life. She was also a dynamite rock-paper-scissors champ. 

As soon as the clumsy quartet enters the house — which is relatively early in the film — Bitch Ass slowly but surely kills each and every one of them through his devilish, and very grown up, games. Interestingly enough, the characters are all resigned to the fact that they’ll have to play Bitch Ass, but their relative emotional output is staid and unexcited. Trust us, if we had to play a guillotine-riddled version of Connect Four there’d be some screaming, sweating, and more than a few tears. 

Bitch Ass unfolds as you’d expect. The film unfolds in a clear and linear fashion with no twists, turns, and only limited scares. A killing by numbers affair with board game prompts. Director Posley is definitely on to something with the story and the super-clever title sequences and board game queues. More to the point, the Bitch Ass character is a good one.

Part Saw, part People Under the Stairs, and part Prowler, Bitch Ass could have been a much more nuanced version of social dynamics in the hood. In 2021, Candyman was able to wander through a minefield of red-lining, police violence, gentrification, racism within the art community, and even homosexuality within the African American community. It’s possible to thread many needles, scare the holy hell out of audiences, and create memorable slashers. Unfortunately, Bitch Ass just rolls the dice and gives a heaping pile of “…what could have been.” Here’s to hoping Bitch Ass II is lurking just around the corner!

Bitch Ass had its world premiere at SXSW 2022.

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