No good deed goes unpunished in Scott Schirmer’s latest psycho-sexual nightmare, the riveting but highly disturbing “The Bad Man”.
Filmmaker Scott Schirmer has his shit together. He is quickly becoming one of the most prolific independent movie makers out there, with a battle-tested crowdfunding approach that delivers time and time again to fans. Scott’s most recent success though, is through The Bad Man, a unique and disturbing tale starring Jason Crowe, Ellie Church, and Arthur Cullipher.
Months ago, when I saw the initial trailer for The Bad Man, I became immediately intrigued. I have enjoyed Schirmer’s previous endeavors, as well as those of his talented cast. I find him uncompromising, and he has developed a penchant for provocative storytelling which I deeply admire. Thus, I closely followed the progress of this project with great anticipation and was pleased to see, yet again, Schirmer acquired the necessary funds to develop The Bad Man.
During filming, a certain air of mystique was added courtesy of some rather personal Facebook posts by star Ellie Church in which she admitted there were some very emotional moments while making The Bad Man, causing some significant responses from the actors. Even within the special features on the blu ray, Ellie speaks of dreading this performance as she’s in costume applying makeup before a take. Dreading, but never ever considering not giving her all for the role.
After viewing what Scott Schirmer created, I realized where these actors had to go emotionally to effectively convey the madness unfolding on screen.
The story begins with PJ (Jason Crowe) and Mary (Ellie Church) taking over a gorgeous and isolated Bed & Breakfast that was previously owned by her departed grandmother. Not long after arriving though, a stranger (Arthur Cullipher) knocks on the door seeking accommodations but instead of turning him away and explaining that the B&B is no longer, Mary chooses to assist the traveller with a ‘kind face’ for just one night.
By the time she decides to act on her instincts, it is too late and her act of kindness turns out to be the biggest mistake of her life, beginning the living nightmare for PJ and herself.
Arthur Cullipher, known for running The Clockwerk Creature Company, morphs from monster maker to lunatic so wonderfully in ‘The Bad Man’. Cullipher, donned in greasepaint, displays a confident mania with his character. The Clown is unstable and dangerously unpredictable, commanding complete obedience from the captive young couple who are taken off guard and rightfully terrified.
In a scene where The Clown asserts his control and exercises a degrading punishment, he sends his perfectly toned, gas mask wearing, gimp-like assistant (Dave Parker) into the other room, where he proceeds to violate PJ off camera, complete with sub human guttural growls. The horrified Mary is left to listen to her boyfriends attack as The Clown attempts casual conversation.
The couple are continuously drugged, humiliated and demoralized. Their will is viciously broken day in and day out, with threats of violent retribution if they disobey. “I promise such pain for noncompliance” says the Clown. It’s impressive how near perfect Cullipher can pull off this level of unabashed sadistic psychosis while his counterparts, Church and Crowe achieve a state of incredible fragility.
The Clown wants them to lose all sense of identity and take on the roles demanded for each — a doll and a dog. This radical requirement is enforced with a sick sense of enthusiastic pride as the Clown nears his date to deliver ‘quality merchandise’ at the auction. That’s right, Mary and PJ are being groomed as utterly submissive sex slaves to the highest bidder. With her boyfriend quickly losing his mind, it is Mary who is left to sustain a sense of mental fortitude to try and combat the Clown’s gameplan.
Schirmer’s latest film is up for Best Feature, Best Writing (Scott Schirmer) and Best Actress (Ellie Church) at the upcoming genre film celebration known as the Nightmares Film Festival in Columbus, Ohio with, I assume, more festivals to be announced in the future.
The Bad Man made me feel as vulnerable as Mary and PJ, with Schirmer earning this through a wondrous blend of troubling scenes with both graphic and implied violence. He wrote some rather unsettling shit, keeping true to form in my opinion, and I love it.
Scott is no stranger to sex and violence, having created Plank Face and Harvest Lake, but something truly sinister lies within The Bad Man. Like he was able to tap into a vein of untainted psychological and sexual malice. Adding an additional layer of unease felt throughout is the eclectic, thoughtful score Justin Burning delivers.
THE BAD MAN is one Hell of a film, and I promptly gave kudos to those involved after watching it, but I sadly know there will be a number who will not appreciate it the way I do. And that’s fine, because I guarantee Scott will be at it again, creating another sexually infused cinematic nightmare for countless others like myself to enjoy.