|release date||November 9 2010|
|studio||Virgil Films and Entertainment|
|starring||Michael Madsen, Jennifer Tisdale, Rachel Hunter, David Frank Fletcher Jr., Nils Allen Stewart|
After the release of Reservoir Dogs, I expected Michael Madsen to evolve into an indie juggernaut of sorts, the King of B-movies, like Parker Posey but with a growly voice and a big dick. (Seriously, his johnson IS the occasional subject of interviews.) But while a few of his fellow Dogs are successfully anchoring cable series like Lie to Me and Brooklyn Empire, Madsen has languored in the shadows of straight-to-DVD crap-dom. Too bad, cause his sly sullenness could easily carry a strongly-scripted B-horror movie. Unfortunately, The Brazen Bull is NOT that horror movie.
Lauren and her boyfriend Tyler are in the business of buying distressed properties in the ghetto and converting them into high-class residential condos. Lauren’s friend Ashley––whose defiantly purple-dyed hair-ends practically scream, “Hi there, audience! I’m the quirky and alternative BFF!”––wants to film the couple as they inspect derelict buildings, in the hopes of turning the footage into a documentary. But Michael Madsen, a menacing torturer who refers to himself as the “Brazen Bull” for reasons that are way too stupid to go into, locks the trio in one of the buildings and commences all manner of boring-ass harassment.
The problems with The Brazen Bull are legion. The script is flat-out silly, with contrived drama and illogical outbursts of emotion taking the place of actual character development. The characters seem most apt to scream at each other when there’s nothing much else going on, which turns out to be most of the time. The acting is zany and unpredictable, ranging from subdued to ultra-hammy, regardless of context. Lauren, the female lead, is played by Ashley Tisdale’s older sister Jennifer, of Dark Ride (anti)fame. She turns in a pinched, agonizingly screechy non-performance that practically wilts the screen. It’s like she won the role through Scream Queens or something.
The first 30 minutes consist primarily of the threesome exploring the old building, getting occasionally separated, only so they can be reunited moments later by an inevitable jump scare. Once Madsen captures and begins torturing the characters, the movie tries to bring the torture-porn pain via a handful of insert shots of cheap prosthetics. But ultimately, the plot is pot-committed to finding out Madsen’s super-secret motive, and he spends the last hour of the flick whining and bitching like a goth girl in therapy.