June 15, 2021 Baphomet (Movie Review)
Cradle of Filth’s Dani Filth makes a guest appearance in a new Occult Horror-Thriller entitled Baphomet, which arrived to VOD platforms, as well as on Blu-ray and DVD, on June 8, 2021 thanks to Cleopatra Entertainment.
Written and directed by Matthan Harris (The Inflicted 2012, For We Are Many 2019), Baphomet stars Colin Ward (Mother’s Boys 1993, Mank 2020), Ivy Opdyke (Dependents short 2017, The Lines Between 2018), Rebecca Weaver (Cam Companion short 2015, June Falling Down 2016), and Stephen Brodie (The Lone Ranger 2013, Fear the Walking Dead series).
The film’s straightforward story centers around a Satanic cult and the family who unintentionally stands in their way, all while blending the Occult Thriller with moments inspired by 1980s’ Horror. But this battle between good and evil starts simply enough: Aksel Brandr (Brodie) turns up on Jacob (Ward) and Elena (Opdyke) Richardson’s doorstep with a business proposition. Unfortunately for their daughter Rebecca (Weaver) she just so happens to be in town to celebrate her first pregnancy with husband Mark (Writer-Director Harris).
What transpires between Jacob and Aksel is not altogether peculiar or out of the ordinary, but soon the Richardsons are left wondering if they have somehow been cursed. And with each successive loss that they endure, they will have to ask themselves if they have accidentally managed to invite evil into their lives.
Baphomet‘s plot is elementary, and succinct at 72 minutes, both of which play an important role in the film’s failure to deliver. In fact, its biggest issue is its undeveloped screenplay, which races from one obvious plot point to the next, achieving the bulk of what it sets out to do in less than 15 minutes of screen time. This leaves a story that lacks in flow, often resembling more of an evidence reveal with its heavily punctuated bullet points. Lacking in character development and only providing minimal backstory, Baphomet’s downfall is baked into its foundation; a rushed screenplay that lacks in critical developing details, failing to provide anything special to distinguish its tale from thousands of other Occult Thrillers that take on witches and Satanic cults.
To be fair, that doesn’t mean that Baphomet doesn’t have any cards to play. Some of its cast deliver noteworthy performances with what they are given—particularly Giovanni Lombardo Radice (House on the Edge of the Park 1980, Stage Fright 1987), as cult leader Henrik, and Charlotte Bjornbak (Weeds series, Criminal Minds series) as the white witch Marybeth. Radice is fierce in his portrayal of Henrik Brandr, inspiring an unease that comes solely from his domineering speech and powerful body language, while Bjornbak is able to express the seriousness of her situation with an ease that makes her a memorable High Priestess. Similarly, Ward has his moments as he tries to express the impassioned spirit of a dedicated family man.
Unfortunately, these performances alone cannot save an already waterlogged dingy. So while it appears that Harris intended to deliver his viewers an epic battle between good and evil, one that puts a family’s lives and land at stake, Baphomet delivers more of a commentary on loss and perseverance in the face of insurmountable odds—like death. But you’ll have to dig deep to find those themes as the situation at the center of the film escalates faster than the speed of sound.
Even the story’s characters have that all-too-obvious inclination as to what is going on around them, jumping from baby names to discussion of demonic hexes. Though we suppose that one has to think on their toes in a world where three characters meet their demise within the first 25 minutes. Either way, aside from the innate desire to see good prevail, it is hard to empathize with a group of flat characters.
For what actually amounts to 67 minutes of screen time (without the credits), Baphomet is just too rushed, oversimplified and, in turn, too obvious, to land a major impression. It has its highs—including its intense score composed by Fabio Amurri (German Angst 2015, Dead End short 2019)—as well as the aforementioned lows, managing to mark itself as a completely generic Occult Thriller whose major selling point is Dani Filth. For this, even though we love Cradle of Filth, Cryptic Rock gives Baphomet 2.5 of 5 stars.