Nigel Bach Breaks Out The iPhone Again For “Steelmanville Road : A Bad Ben Prequel”

Posted: May 6, 2017 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Well, that didn’t take long : mere months after the release of the most “solo” film effort you’re ever gonna see in your life, Bad Ben —in which no-budget auteur Nigel Bach served as screenwriter, director, producer, cinematographer, and the flick’s only actor (hell, he even filmed it in his own home!) — we’re back in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, to learn about the unlucky people who owned Bach’s spread before he did. I hope I’m not “spoiling” anything when I reveal that their attempted home-making experience was not a pleasant one.

But what about your viewing experience? Well, Steelmanville Road : A Bad Ben Prequel suffers from the same inherent weakness that all “stories before the stories” do, namely that you you’re already pretty well clued in as to how things are gonna end, but I could probably live with that if it were the only thing wrong with the proceedings here — unfortunately it’s just the tip of the home-made iceberg. Bach may not have upgraded his filming equipment between late 2016 and early 2017, but he has considerably broadened the scope of his ambitions, going from a cast of one to a cast of six (if I remember correctly) and toying around to figure out a few more filtering effects with his trusty iPhone to give things a bit more “found footage” faux-authenticity. This production may even have had an actual — albeit obviously miniscule — budget, since I don’t think these “actors” worked for free, but damn, Nigel, I’m sorry to report that was money very poorly spent.

Our admittedly threadbare plot here revolves around young-ish couple Matt and Rachael Harris (played by Christopher and Jessica Partridge, respectively, who I sincerely hope are a married couple themselves rather than brother and sister, because that would be just plain creepy), who have just “lucked” into a hefty, unexpected windfall : Rachael’s biological mother — who she never met given that she was given up for adoption at birth — has recently died and left the couple her home on, obviously, Steelmanville Road. The pair couldn’t be more enthusiastic about this out-of-the-blue break since it’s a bigger, fancier place than they ever could have hoped to afford themselves, but things go pretty far south pretty quickly when — yawn! — things start going bump in the night more or less the minute they move in and only get worse the longer they refuse to do the smart thing, namely get the hell out and never look back.

Matt explores the “practical explanation” route first, as you’d no doubt expect (which is a pretty fair summation of the entire movie, come to think of it), but when none of that pans out Rachael manages to prevail upon him the need to look into spiritual and/or paranormal avenues, and that starts the ball of dark family secrets rolling, which ultimately leads to — shit, I guess I won’t give it all away, but whatever you’re guessing? It’s probably right.

Both lead actors struggle to varying degrees when it comes to “inhabiting” their roles (Jessica mildly, Christopher mightily), and with a flick this “character-centric” that’s tantamount to digging a hole that’s way too deep to climb out of. Bach has been doing his homework when it comes to producing a more technically proficient product — which, sadly, negates some of the incompetent charm that made its way in front of the camera (sorry, phone) in Bad Ben — but eliciting decent performances from his “stars” is still an aspect of the director’s portfolio that eludes him, even if there’s quite likely only so much you can do with “talent” on hire from local small-town community theater and the like. In other words, it’s not just the Partridges who can’t hack it here — every single one of the supporting players, to a person, is clearly in over their heads, and when you don’t have anything to distract from this by way of cool effects, professional production values, interesting sets, and the like, well, shit — your “horseshit cast” flaw becomes a fatal one indeed.

Anyway, if you absolutely must, Steelmanville Road : A Bad Ben Prequel (“A” prequel? Will there be more, then?) is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime, but this is essentially just a more bloated and unsatisfying re-working of its more amateurish, sure, but no doubt more effective predecessor. I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with some reason — hell, any reason — for you to invest just over an hour and a half of your life in this hackneyed little ghost-story-via-cell phone, but I’m coming up empty. As did Bach with his ill-advised, boring quickie.

Comments
  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

  2. Nigel Bach says:

    I am Nigel Bach, creator of this film. I applaud your effort to be a film critic. How’s that going for you?

    We had fun, and our fans like what we did, more so with Bad Ben admittantly than with Steelmanville Road. Our earnings from Amazon have been phenomenal, I hope you do as well with your little blog here that you seem to work very hard on.

    And yes, there is one more film planned, a sequel to the original. It will be more like the original. I look forward to your review (not really, I only found this because I Googled my name.) I wish you great success and all the best!

    • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I will keep an eye out for your next film.

      • kenny says:

        Ryan, did you see “Badder Ben” yet??? omg this was my favorite! this movie was very entertaining! very refreshing in my opinion.

      • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

        Yes, I saw — and reviewed — “Badder Ben” last week, I agree it’s the best of the trilogy.

  3. kenny says:

    when i first saw this first film and the other 2, i didnt expect much, but ive been watching scary movies for years. these 3 movies from Nigel were a little different take and story, on these type of horror genre films. maybe with of a budget of 3 million these films could have been better, but who the hell cares, all directors, actors, and writers, have to start somewhere, and these 3 films that Nigel did, including the best in my opinon, “Badder Ben”, were so refreshing to watch.
    all 3 films are filmed in his house. i love it!!! a great night at the movies, in my opinion, with watching all 3 of Nigel’s movies ,on amazon prime! thankyou Nigel !!!

    • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

      I thought they were up and down, but I generally found more to like than dislike. “Bad Ben” was fun and etnertaining, “Steelmanville Road” was dull and uninspired, and “Badder Ben” closed them out on a nigh note with a fun final chapter.

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