Bearry, (original title, Bryan the RomCom) the new film from director Alexander T. Hwang (Paranormal Attraction, Prey in Cold Blood) and co-writer Anthony Werley (Lilith, Insane) is, after Shaun of the Dead, only the second horror rom-com I’ve run into. And unlike that classic, this film actually is a rom-com, rather than just having a subplot involving a relationship as well as a horror film. The question is, are the two genres a good match, or should they have swiped left and moved on?
Chloe (Sarah French, Clown Fear, The Amityville Murders) has just had her husband Andrew (Kevin Caliber, Ugly Sweater Party, Tales of Frankenstein) leave her. From what we can tell he’s a world-class dbag, but she’s miserable. Trying to cheer her up her bestie Sam (Felissa Rose, Camp Twilight, It Wants Blood!) buys her a huge stuffed bear named Bearry. She also sets her up with a friend of hers. Several in fact, each worse than the last.
After a business dinner with her boss Jeff (Michael Wainwright, Altar, Mayday) goes south when she won’t, Jeff is found minus his head. The only clue, a tuft of stuffing on his body. Who, or what could have done it? Will Chloe ever notice Stephan (Thomas Haley, Breakdown, Cold Blooded Killers)? Who will turn up dead next? Who or what is responsible for the deaths and can Detectives Seahorn (Vernon Wells, Fear of the Woods – The Beginning, Await the Dawn) and Clark (Vincent M. Ward, Big Freaking Rat, Scream Test) catch them?
The first half of Bearry is indeed a rom-com, just with a couple of murders thrown in. And while rom-coms are most definitely not my thing, this was bearable. The losers Chloe gets set up with are amusingly awful and the scenes play out quick enough that they didn’t get on my nerves. And you’ll be happy to see the two victims dead.
It’s not until the halfway point when Chloe meets a nice guy who promptly turns up dead that Bearry’s tone starts to shift and the film becomes darker. It also drops any pretense of who the killer is when we see Bearry move of his own volition, and then take a chainsaw to his next, and supremely deserving, victim.
To a certain degree, Bearry fits in with other recent killer stuffie films like Puppet Killer and Barry Loves You. But with his human size, and rejected lover persona, Bearry is closer to a human killer than either of those. We never really get an explanation for how he came to life, well we do get one near the end from Katelyn (Sheri Davis, The Devil’s Heist, Axegrinder 2) but she’s so far down the conspiracy rabbit hole I’m not sure she’s meant to be taken seriously.
Bearry also benefits from a cast full of faces that will be familiar to fans of indie horror. Apart from those I’ve already mentioned Charles Chudabala (The Gateway) who plays one of Chloe’s friends and is in the Bearry suit, Brooklyn Haley (Desert Moon), Joe Knetter (Hanukkah), Noel Jason Scott (The Butcher) and Jennifer Nangle (That Night) all turn up at one point or another.
On the downside, the kills rely a bit too much on CGI blood spray and there are some horrible CGI fire effects as well. Some viewers may also find the kills a bit on the tame side, though I think if they were much more graphic it would have ruined the film’s mood. Lastly, there’s the very obvious use of a body double in an otherwise interesting sequence that cuts between two characters taking showers.
Overall though, Bearry is an enjoyably weird film that’s worth catching when it comes to VOD and DVD some time in August. You can check its Facebook page for announcements of the date.