Bread Crumbs, the new low-budget slasher from director, Mike Nichols (no, not that one!), opens promisingly enough, with a really kick ass animated opening credits sequence detailing a sort of grimmer-than-Grimm’s version of the story of Hansel and Gretel. Once the credits end, however, it quickly becomes apparent that we’ve just seen the most polished and professional part of the film. After that, it all goes down the hill quicker than Jack and Jill.
A group of adult filmmakers head out to an isolated cabin to shoot a film. The crew consists of former porn star/mother figure, Jane (Darby Worley); her ill-mannered husband/director, Eddie (Nichols); fed-up actress, Angie (Marianne Hagan); nervous newcomer, Dominic (Douglas Nyback); and an assortment of nerdy behind-the-scenes folk, bountifully breasted starlets, and hulking meat slabs that serve as remaining cast and crew. While driving to their location, they nearly run down Henry (Dan Shaked) and his sister, Patti (Amy Crowdis) - a pair of country “kids” who seem to have emerged from the shallow end of the gene pool. We know Henry’s evil because he has a big red birthmark on his cheek and talks like Pee Wee Herman. Patti, on the other hand, is quite fetching and actually pretty stylishly dressed and coiffed for a backwoods deviant. It’s no wonder that the family-starved Angie – who’s been in the business for so long her biological clock is a sun dial – instantly takes a maternal shine to the ravishing young red head. Later that night, while settling in at the cabin, Angie has another encounter with Patti, who flees into the woods, leaving her tattered doll behind.
The next morning, the cast and crew get down to the business of making porn. While shooting a scene in front of a window, Eddie notices that the creepy Henry is watching them from the woodpile. He chases Eddie away, but Henry soon returns, and Angie gives him his sister’s doll to give back to her. Henry grabs Angie and starts spouting some nonsense about candy and The Woodsman. Angie pulls away, and returns to the house to prepare for her scene with the nervous Dominick (who has a thing for Angie), but, when Dominick can’t remember his lines, Eddie locks him out of the cabin until he can prove that he’s memorized them. Dominic is attacked and badly injured, however, and the others bring him back into the house to tend to him. As they do, the power goes out, the only telephone (a landline, of course, as they’re too far off the beaten path for cell reception), vanishes, and it becomes apparent to everyone but Angie that the innocent children are playing a not-so-innocent game.
Nichols' film has a nifty premise and fairly decent production values for a low-budget flick, but it’s all hampered by some really dismal writing, stilted performances from most of the cast, and a pair of to begin with. There’s nothing supernatural or special about Henry and Patti. Henry’s a lanky goofball and Patti’s a petite cutie, either of which could be easily dispatched by a single person with a decent sized stick, let alone nine adults with a kitchen’s worth of cutlery at their disposal. Instead, our heroes run off in separate directions, venture off alone to retrieve pointless items, and basically set themselves up to be as easy a target as possible. At one point, seven of the protagonists happen upon Patti and Henry as Henry is busy attacking one of the others, yet, instead of ganging up on the guy and beating the living snot out of him, they all run back to the cabin, losing three of their number in the process. In a Friday the 13th or Halloween film, this behavior would be understandable as the antagonists in those films are nigh invulnerable death machines. In Bread Crumbs, however, the killer is a ninety pound teenager with Asperger’s and a yucky birthmark. Hell, my wife could kick his ass.
Bread Crumbs isn’t all bad, however. Nichols definitely has some chops, so I’d love to see him work from a better script. The early going had a nice, vintage slasher feel to it, especially in the way the characters are introduced. A few standout performances, especially Nyback, whose goofy charm and boyish good looks reminded me of Alan Tudyk, helped raise the material to another level on occasion, while Zoe Sloane’s (who plays the ditzy starlet, Skylar) impressive assets helped…err…raise something else. There are also a few decent scares and impressive gore effects, although I did notice some seriously dodgy CGI during one throat slashing scene that made me wince for all the wrong reasons. There’s also a pre-credit torture sequence involving Halloween’s Kristen Klebe’s midriff, which, to me, is a bonus in and of itself.
The film comes to DVD courtesy of Green Apple Entertainment in a barebones DVD offering…um…a box to keep it in. There’s also a trailer, but that hardly counts as an extra these days.
The film is presented in a full frame transfer that looks fairly solid, with a sharp and vibrant image in the outdoor sequences during the day as well as decent black levels and contrast during the evening exterior shots, but I did notice that faces looked a bit blushed in interior shots, and the image, as a whole, took on something of an orange hue. The 5.1 soundtrack is serviceable, but, sonically speaking, the low-budget source material won’t knock anyone’s socks off. Dialogue is clear, for the most part, and there are a few nicely implemented surround effects that lend to the atmosphere.
Bread Crumbs opens strong, but falls apart fairly quickly, ultimately becoming yet another infuriatingly dim and poorly scripted low-budget slasher. The film has its moments, but too few to recommended anything beyond a rental, and, even then, it’s a cautious recommendation at best.