BITCH ASS (2022)
Release Date: 10/14/22 [VOD]
Studio: Quiver Distribution
"A gang initiation goes wrong when a group of four recruits break into a house of horror, as they're all forced to play deadly games for their lives. Win and you live - lose and you die."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
It’s been too long since audiences were treated to a good blaxploitation film. That’s not to say there haven’t been any good ones this century. Undercover Brother, Black Dynamite, and Django Unchained are all superb recent examples. But I think I’d add Bill Posley’s Bitch Ass to that list too. It may not be a mainstream movie or as just commercially successful as some of those other releases, but it’s still just as categorically fun.
Set in the year 1999, Bitch Ass revolves around a group of young Black teenagers who are tasked with breaking into an abandoned house as a part of a gang initiation. There’s only one problem though: the house isn’t abandoned. In fact, it’s still inhabited by a neighborhood reject nicknamed “Bitch Ass.” While some thought he moved away or died, he’s actually just been plotting his revenge. And when the teenagers enter the house, they have no idea that they’ll literally have to play his games to survive.
The film is part psychological thriller and part revenge tale. I found it to be most comparable to the Saw films. Not just because it’s an indie film but because of the way Bitch Ass loves to make his “guests” play games. These aren’t puzzles or traps where the odds are rigged against them. These are literally practical board games like Operation, Connect 4, and Battleship. The fact that a serial killer would literally torment people with games that are most associated with joy and innocence is not only a fun twist, but it adds a layer of excitement because you never know if they have a chance to redeem themsevles. It’s an idea that Squid Game also found success with, that works just as well here. Not because of any social commentary, but rather the context of the trauma our killer was put under.
Before he became known as Bitch Ass, he was just a normal kid named Cecil with a penchant for games. Through flashbacks we eventually learn that he was beat up and badly scarred within an inch of his life for being unapologetically himself. Through those simple, yet surprisingly effective sequences we understand that although life has not been fair to Cecil, he intends to still play his games. In the film’s present, however, he wants those to lose to lose just as much or more than what he did.
Truthfully, Bill Posley’s direction isn’t the most compelling thing about the film, but it’s still surprisingly stylish. The film is made to look and feel like a B movie - and succeeds in every way. From the pseudo set-up by Tony Todd to the title cards between game sequences that literally show the audience who the players are and what the games will be. I didnt expect much from this film, but it was those nuances that made it feel so fresh and enjoyable.
The acting also isn’t the best, but it works because - as I said before - this is supposed to be a B movie. Not all of it can be excused though. One of the most jarring aspects of the film is the fact that the older version of Cecil/Bitch Ass has a thick accent, while the younger version does not. It’s a choice that made me question if it was the same character at first, but it’s also one that becomes increasingly funny as the film goes on.
While Bitch Ass isn’t a groundbreaking horror film, I do think its mere existence is worth celebrating. Blaxploitation is a genre that rarely gets any love or recognition today. Bill Posley probably could have made any film in any genre that he wanted, but he purposefully chose to tell this story. It’s an odd one admittedly and it may all be about revenge, but it’s a love letter to the kind of films that just don’t get attention anymore. Of all the revenge Bitch Ass is after, that might actually be the best.