BAD BEN 2: STEELMANVILLE ROAD (aka A BAD BEN PREQUEL, 2017)
Directed/written by Nigel Bach.
Starring Jessica Partridge, Christopher Partridge, Ian Mullin, Alex Pallen, A.J. Mendini, Nigel Bach
Find out more about this film here!
A newlywed couple Rachel (Jessica Partridge) and Matt (Christopher Partridge) inherit a large house from Rachel’s mother. Almost immediately, Jessica begins hearing strange noises and getting strange vibes from the new home. Working nights and looking to make his wife feel better, Matt gets his friend to install an intricate set of video cameras to provide security and comfort for his wife. But these tapes only solidify Jessica’s claims of strange paranormal activities occurring. When a local mystic named Mona arrives, she informs Jessica that she knew her mother and reveals the dark secrets of the house’s past involving a cult-like family, the Jersey Devil, and dark forces swirling around the property for ages.
Though it doesn’t advertise it at first, I really like the way STEELMANVILLE ROAD attempts to surprise the viewer in believing this is a sequel to BAD BEN, when in fact, it is a prequel. Having encountered the film with the title, BAD BEN 2: STEELMANVILLE ROAD and not the other title, A BAD BEN PREQUEL, I think it only adds to the experience seeing these little details come to pass that show up later in the timeline in the first BAD BEN. Much of the strange and seemingly random details that show up in the original BAD BEN are explained very well in this prequel. In fact, I was extremely impressed at how finely crafted the mythology of BAD BEN actually was. If you’re looking for a film series that pays extremely close attention to consistency and continuity, filmmaker Nigel Bach does so with flying colors here.
In pretty much every way, across the board, BAD BEN 2 is a better film than it’s predecessor. The cast is expanded. The acting feels pretty natural. The budget is still low, but still, some very rudimentary effects are used quite capably. There are quite a few lead-ins to a jump scare that pay off surprisingly well. There is a simple image of a kid super-imposed into scenes that may seem goofy at first, but the more he appears, the spookier he actually gets. I was also really impressed at he way Bach incorporates the folklore about the Jersey Devil into the mix. Even while this sequel/prequel answers questions, it introduces new ones for future installments to pick up on. That’s some impressive storytelling at work. Much more impressive than I would have thought capable of this series.
While I don’t want to build BAD BEN 2 up too much. It’s still barebones filmmaking. But it manages to get solid scares and performances, despite the low budget. The film definitely has me excited for the next installment which, as of this point, is improving as it goes along. Here’s hoping things get better or at least remains consistent next week with BAD BEN 3: BADDER BEN – THE FINAL CHAPTER…shyeah right.