Bethany is a horror/thriller that sticks to one way to scare its audience no matter how tired and predictable it becomes.
Early on it establishes that its main character, Claire (Stefanie Estes) isn’t right in the head. The only real mystery is if that’s a result of the death of her mother, returning to her childhood home or her previous suicide attempt. Claire starts off unsettled, but based on her retelling of her relationship with her mother, played by Shannen Doherty, it’s hard to see her wallowing in grief. Soon, Claire starts having hallucinations that play in to flashbacks from her traumatic childhood.
Claire’s husband, Aaron (Zack Ward, Resident Evil: Apocalypse) tries his best to be supportive and understanding, but Claire has to conquer her demons on her own.
The problem with an unstable narrator in a thriller is their credibility quickly gets shot. There’s only so many fake-out false frights that play out before the scares stop being effective. And once that pattern becomes apparent, Bethany really doesn’t have much else to offer. For the more squeamish viewer these sequences might freak them out, but it’s hard to buy into them when the payoff is the same.
Tom Green has an odd cameo as Claire’s psychiatrist. He mostly plays it straight, but he can’t help but inject some of his trademark quirkiness to the role.
Ward co-wrote the screenplay with Director James Cullen Bressack. Estes struggles the most with the stilted dialogue as she gets the majority of the lines that don’t sound like how real people talk. The script doesn’t do justice by Claire, making her a challenging protagonist to fully care about.
Bressack works in some interesting camera perspectives, but sticks far too closely to thriller cliches leading to diminishing returns. Probably as a function of the budget, Bressack has to use low light, which isn’t bad although the cheesy music dulls some of the suspense.
Bethany has some interesting ideas that get buried in a far too familiar jump scare thriller. There’s potential here, but it doesn’t fully get explored. What Bethany is left with is ultimately just another unsatisfying psychological thriller.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Photo Credit: Brilliant Screen Studios