Bats, (originally titled Bats: The Awakening), begins with three British teens, who for some reason talk with badly fake American accents, breaking into a supposedly abandoned house to hang out. Which in this case means the two guys taking turns bedding the girl. This being a horror movie they’re soon dead, two killed by a human/bat hybrid of some sort, the third by regular bats.
A few weeks later Georgie (Kate Sandison, Dinosaur Hotel) has to go back to the home she fled from decades ago after something contaminated the area. It seems someone broke into the long-abandoned house. Her granddaughter Jamie (Megan Purvis, Rise of the Mummy) is still grieving the death of her fiance so she decides to bring her, her sister Amelia (Georgia Conlan, Isolation the Series), and their parents Lisa (Amanda-Jade Tyler, Witches of Amityville Academy) and Rick (Ricardo Freitas, Hatched) along as a change might do them good.
As soon as they get there we realize it’s the house from the opening. And it doesn’t take long until everyone knows that whatever attacked the kids is still living in the attic.
Written by Scott Jeffrey (Medusa) who co-directed with Rebecca Matthews (The Candy Witch) Bats has an odd 80s feel to it. The film never says when it’s set, but the characters’ hair and makeup look like they’re from that era. Two of the three songs by Greg Birkumshaw, (who also did the score), sound remarkably like late the late eighties/early nineties Britsh goth band Nosferatu. Plus plot points like the have sex and die opening and the generic “it’s a mutation” explanation for the monster just reinforce that feeling.
As these things go Bats isn’t bad. The opening segment moves quickly enough and has a decidedly WTF moment when one of the guys tells the girl he only bedded her because he thinks her mother is hot. I don’t remember hearing it mentioned, but maybe the girl’s name was Stacy?
We do get a bit too much of a soap opera after that as Jamie incessantly mopes over her lost love and tries to reconnect with her family. It doesn’t help that it’s never clear if she needs to reconnect because of him, or because she’d gone to the city for college. Thankfully once Grandma ventures up into the attic and finds something worse than pigeons roosting there the pace picks up dramatically.
Jeffrey and Matthews get good use out of the film’s two primary locations, the old house and an empty church where the film reaches its climax. The plot itself is nothing out of the ordinary but the settings give it some extra atmosphere. It’s also a nice contrast become the cramped and claustrophobic rooms in the house and the church’s big open areas.
Surprisingly, given the source, Bats does have a couple of attempts at actual gore. Whatever it is the bat creature spits eats one character’s leg down to the bone and its screech makes another’s head explode. It’s nice to see Jeffery make the effort but the effects aren’t very convincing. It’s also never explained why the screeching makes one person’s head explode but the person standing next to them is unaffected by it.
Bats is a reasonably suspenseful and entertaining film but it’s nothing like the description on IMDB. I don’t mean it exaggerates the scope of the film, I mean it sounds like it’s for another film entirely. It actually sounds like it was the original pitch for the film before the realities of the budget and shooting schedule set in.
But, taken for what it is, Bats is an acceptable way to kill some time. It’s available on digital platforms from ITN. You can check the production company’s Facebook page for more information.