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The Bad Shepherd

Directed by Geo Santini
On digital in the UK

Four friends accidentally knock down a woman on a country lane with their car on their way to a hunting trip. After discovering she was carrying a holdall filled to the brim with cash, they decide not to contact the police but to dispose of the woman’s body themselves so they can keep the money and no-one will be any the wiser. However, this decision will come to be something they later regret when the owner of the money comes a-knockin’.

Thriller THE BAD SHEPHERD gets into the swing of things really quickly when we see a bloodied woman hobble from her broken down car up a rural lane carrying a duffle bag full of money and a handgun. We instantly know something isn’t right but before we get to know any more about her plight, her life is cut short by Travis’ driving. Though we know very little about Travis and his friends John, Paul and Leonard, how they react to the victim and the subsequent discovery of the cash she was carrying says everything about their personalities. John is the first to suggest the dastardly plan of keeping the money and bury the woman’s body with Leonard and Travis following suit. Only Paul out of the four friends makes a stand about how they should contact the police, with the money the last thing on his mind. Outvoted, Paul is forced to go along with the group and that’s where things start to take a dangerous turn.

It’s plain to see that greed is anyone’s downfall, but THE BAD SHEPHERD continuously ramps up the pressure, as not only do they have to deal with outsiders poking their nose into their business but their friendship is put to the test too. The appearance of the money’s owner, a suave Geo Santini as Sidney, throws the cat amongst the pigeons as he demands his money be returned to him. What makes it different to most confrontations though is Sidney’s demeanour. He’s not threatening and quite happy to handle his stolen millions in a calm and calculated manner, even to the point of being tied up. Just what is he up to?

The way the friends handle their newfound situation is sloppy at best with a wrapped up body just plonked in the middle of the yard of the lodge they’re renting. Not once but twice they’re interrupted with the concealed body on full display. If they wanted to keep their actions on the down-low, the last thing they should do is keep the evidence lying there for anyone to stumble upon. But this is exactly what’s happening with these men. They’re not thinking straight and greed has warped their personalities in a way in which has exposed their darkest desires and some well-kept secrets which float to the surface. As Sidney calmly probes his captors, you can see the cracks begin to show in each of the guys, not just in their personalities but in their friendship too. What’s stopping them from offing each other to have a bigger share of the money?

Scotty Tovar takes the lead as John whose not-so bright idea was to take the money in the first place and is the troublesome catalyst for a series of events. He’s a very unlikable character and it’s interesting how the dynamic with his friends changes once they discover this darker side to him which he’d been clearly keeping under wraps. One of those is Leonard (Justin Taite) who seems eager to fit in but in doing so makes some bad decisions. Bad decisions is something Travis (Brett Zimmerman) already knows too much about, having been tipsy at the wheel when he hit the woman. The only one of them to have some semblance of a heart and regret is Paul (Christos Kalabogias) whose protests get drowned out by the decision to take the money – a decision which gets doubled down on as the film progresses.

The first half of the movie feels a little rough and monotonous in places with the friends executing their ill-thought out plan but it picks up in the second half when actions and decisions begin to really impact the friendship. This is when things start to get interesting! And throughout all this, we have the wonderful tones of Errol Flynn-esque Sidney informing them that things will not end well for them should they keep the money – something we know has merit considering how he makes his entrance to the story. Anyone expecting the film to go out with a bang will be sorely disappointed, but they shouldn’t as it culminates instead with a sly grin that works rather well and compliments the film’s style, and although is telegraphed way in advance, is executed nicely.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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About Bat 4425 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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