The Bates Haunting (2012)


I’m sure Byron Turk thought the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride was amazing, so setting a horror film in and around it would be amazing. It wasn’t. It was also likely going to be a good opportunity to promote the ride. Originally titled “Welcome to the Bates Motel,” the movie gives audiences the impression it has something to do with “Psycho,” when it really doesn’t. The owner of the haunted hayride is named Randy Bates, but that’s as far as it goes. Really, the only reason you’d be interested in seeing this is if you’re a “Jackass” fan. Bam Margera has a five second cameo for a commercial for the attraction, while the late hilarious Ryan Dunn plays an angry customer ordering a pizza. Beyond that, the tagline for the film “Some Things are Best Left Alone” should serve as instructions for anyone looking to rent this title.

Agnes is going to the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride, and during a staged event, watches her friend Lily burn alive during a stunt where a dragon threatens to eat her. Did someone rig the machine to kill Lily? Who would want her dead? Was it all just an accident and Agnes is just a whiny numbskull? Byron Turk’s film is incredibly low budget and looks flimsy and rushed. The title sequence is terrible, and the performances from the entire cast range from laughable to bafflingly inept. Turk even tries to squeeze in some comedy where there should be dramatic moments for our characters, for some odd reason.

Pretty much all of the horror set pieces are built around and in the Haunted Hayride, and character Agnes is visited by her dead friend Lily through dream sequences. Jean Louise O’Sullivan’s performance is just embarrassing and she can never seem to sell her portrayal at any point. It was obvious director Turk spliced in staged footage of the film, along with scenes of the cast on the actual ride. At one point actress O’Sullivan is screaming as her friend is dying from her performance, dying in flames, and you could see one of the folks on the ride looking at her with sheer confusion as to why she’s screaming and crying. Obviously director Turk didn’t quite fill them in on the movie.

The cheap excuse for suspense involves O’Sullivan skulking around and moping, while jump scares litter the run time as Turk just peppers the soundtrack with loud screams. It’s literally nothing but loud screaming and shrieking in the first five minutes, which I assume was meant to set the tone but becomes very irritating. A horror movie centered on a haunted attraction is a great idea, with potential to really scare audiences. But “The Bates Haunting,” at a merciful seventy minutes long, is a piss poor amateur production meant only to serve as a press kit tool for the haunted attraction. Which is a shame, since a talented director and competent writer could have composed something truly brilliant.