FTP: The Binding (2016)

MAY 8, 2019


It must really suck to be a devout Christian. Despite being raised Catholic I don't follow much of it these days (though "Thou Shall Not Kill" is a pretty good idea, I must admit), so if I came home one day and my wife said that God told her to murder our kid, I wouldn't hesitate to grab him and get the hell out of that house as quickly as possible, then call the cops and tell them a crazy person was in my home and please have them removed. But the heroine of The Binding, married to a minister who indeed tells her that God wants him to kill their child, chooses to stick around and try to get him some help, while usually leaving the child right there in the home with them - because the rules of her religion basically tell her to obey the minister and have faith in what he's saying.

Thankfully, the movie is more or less about her growing concern that maybe he's a nut and, furthermore, some of their religious ideas are a little insane, rather than go along with it blindly. But it doesn't change the fact that it's dreadfully dull and hard to get into, because it takes her so long to finally put her foot down; it's one thing to yell at Laurie Strode for dropping the knife at the end of Halloween, because she's been smart up until that point and now you love her and want her to survive. But when the main character (Amy Gumenick, who played young Mary Winchester at one point on Supernatural) is "dropping the knife" (so to speak) for the entire runtime, there's no real "in" to the story. Perhaps to devout Christian viewers this would be more terrifying or at least involving, because they might have trouble reconciling their long-standing faith with an immediate danger they can see with their own two eyes, but I spent 85 minutes rolling my eyes at her for not leaving, calling the cops, etc. I just don't understand the mindset of anyone who'd put religion over their child's well-being; quite frankly I was hoping child services would come and remove the poor girl from both of these morons.

Anyway, the movie is more or less in a loop until the final 10 minutes: the wife has a vision or nightmare of something happening to the child, the husband comes home from work or whatever and says something cryptic, they bicker, they talk to someone (a fellow priest, a shrink, etc) to try to help him, it doesn't take, a truce is called, and the cycle begins anew. She briefly lets her mother take the kid out of the house for a bit, but before long she's back in danger in her own home. For a thriller there isn't a lot of thrills outside of the obvious nightmare scenes, and most sane viewers will have checked out long before the husband finally decides to start acting on the plan he's convinced God has tasked him with. Oh, for those not caught up on Bible stories, the title refers to Isaac, a tale in which God commands Abraham to offer his son (that'd be Isaac) as a sacrifice, to which Abraham complies by binding him to an altar and then murdering him. Luckily, he only gets through the first part - God just wanted to see if he had enough faith to actually go through it, and stops him just in time.

Well (spoiler ahead) the husband chickens out at the last second and stabs himself instead, letting the baby live... but turns out he wasn't crazy after all, and God, apparently pissed off, brings upon the end of days (or at least shuts off all of the electricity in Los Angeles) as punishment for the guy not having more faith, I guess. Had this been the halfway point of the movie they might have been on to something, but why wait until the last 10 seconds to do something interesting and daring? This could have been an indie horror Knowing, instead of a lifeless thriller where most viewers won't be able to connect to its main character. I admire the "he was right all along" approach (shades of the underrated End of the Line), but it's too little too late - a cherry on top of a gross ass salad instead of delicious ice cream. Oh well.

What say you?

P.S. Rare for Scream Factory's modern indie releases, the Blu-ray has commentary and deleted scenes. However, "pile" movies need to be better for me to bother with their supplemental stuff, so I didn't watch any of them. Just letting you know it's a special edition should the above have you thinking it might be worth checking out!


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