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Hellbride (2007)
Movie Review by The Corpse Bride

Hellbride (2007) Hellbride is the third feature film from writer, director and producer Pat Higgins. Higgins has recently made The Devils Music (which won the independent feature award at the festival of fantastic films in 2008). Hellbride was released on DVD in America during May 2009. It finally gets a release here in the UK on March 29th 2010.

Our protagonists, Lee and Nicole, have just got engaged. However, the engagement ring Lee has brought is in fact cursed. Consequently, Nicole is stalked by the rather annoyed ghostly bride (Josephine). It transpires that Josephine had been jilted before her wedding day and decides to ruin the upcoming big day for the next bride who ends up wearing her ring.

Hellbride is one of those very rare, yet pleasant, little oddities. It's odd because it could be the first film I've seen that doesn't have a genre. Or, in other words, it's hard to categorise and pin down exactly what this film is. I was expecting a comedy horror hybrid, yet it's much more than that. Its part comedy, part chick-flick, part drama, part slapstick, part romance, part thriller and there's even some stunning graphic novel-esque animation at the beginning and end of the film, complete with a campy 1950's voiceover.

However, none of the above is a bad thing as it's (clearly) a riot from start to finish. I'd argue that what keeps the film fresh, alive and highly watchable is all of the terrific performances. Rebecca Herod (who also appeared in The Devils Music) is by far, superb. The complex character of Nicole feels like a role she was born to play. This character appears to have been written as a sweet, yet venerable girl who has a sinister dark and ruthless side to her. Herod smoothly changes from innocent to dark to innocent and back to dark again effortsly well.

Herod explained to me that teamwork played a significant role towards her achieving such an impressive performance, as she explained that 'all of the cast and crew were so supportive to each other'. In addition, Higgins' loose direction (as she mentioned that he was always 'open to ideas') gave her the freedom to be spontaneous and to do what she wanted to do with the character. Although, this was by no means as easy as it sounds, as she stressed it was in fact very intensive collaborative team work, since they only had two weeks to shoot the entire feature. Therefore, it wouldn't be fair to claim that Herod carries the film all by herself (as every performance is unique to some degree). She gels well with her finance, Lee (James Fisher, soon to be seen in the upcoming Umbrage) as Fisher is very versatile and expressionate. Together, the pair make a vey likable and engaging couple.

Not all of it works. The climatic wedding scene feels a bit drawn out and the gangster sub plot involving Nicole's dad, needed more development (as well as the tender father-daughter relationship which begins to develop). Others may critisize the quality of the effects, however although they are nothing extraordinary, they work well within this kind of micro budget indie movie.

Hellbride is well worth a watch for fans of the horror (and many other) genres as there's something for everyone in here.

Review written by Rebekah Smith

Directed by Pat Higgins

Starring: James Fisher, Rebecca Herod, Natalie Milner and James Kavaz

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