The forced prequel of Bad Ben abandons the likable sole narrator in favor of a more familiar married couple. The charm of the first one seems to be as invisible as the ghosts.
I must admit that as I watched this film I was overcome with a deep sense of dread. Nothing to do with the film, mind you—it seems my toaster isn’t sufficiently toasting my bagels anymore. Buying new appliances—the true horror of America.
Anyway, Steelmanville Road follows the married couple who moved into the house before Tom does in the original Bad Ben. We follow Rachel and Matt, who could be plucked from this film and dropped into just about any other found footage film involving an obnoxious married couple. These characters just aren’t as likable in their interactions, and instead of deadpan delivery (that is oddly charming) we have characters who announce how they feel instead of acting.
The two just don’t seem happy together. They are willed this home by Rachel’s birth mother (whom she never met), but it seems like the two just don’t like each other very much. Matt is a bit of prick, and Rachel doesn’t seem comfortable in the house from the get go. Now, I’m not a scientist, but I think people put a little more thought into moving into a home than driving and up staying. Willed home or not, I figure a walk through (at least) is in order before diving right in. Further, Rachel makes this decision unilaterally—Matt is not given any input. These issues create a wobble in the narrative that is hard to ignore. I spent more time wondering why they were together than getting into the setting. Further, the constant reminders of Rachel’s discomfort made me wonder why they didn’t sell the home and buy one more suited to their desires.
We also devolve into the whole “I don’t trust my spouse despite being married to them” nonsense. Horror writers, this is a stupid trope that needs to die. I don’t imagine a lot of married folks actually saying “This is all in your head” when their partner is freaked out—particularly if there is no history of mental illness or something like that.
Their friend, Silas is perhaps the most unlikable character in the film. It seems like this film is constructed just to piss off the viewer. Just about everyone in the film is an asshole, and the constant bickering is just painful to watch.
The bummer is that Bad Ben is clearly a labor of love, and it looked like it was actually fun to create. This—this is just crap. I hate these people. Knowing that they were going to die (as is spoiled in Bad Ben) is about the only consolation to this abomination.
The story is paper thin. The camera work is actually worse this time, and the special effects are now laughably distracting. The acting is also just terrible. It is almost worth watching just to see the train wreck scene with the psychic…
I just don’t have anything good to say about this one. An obvious and lazy cash grab—nothing more. 2/10.