José Manuel Cravioto’s “Bound to Vengeance” is exploitation in its ugliest form. I’d love to be one of the many to decry the film as misogynist, but exploitation is by nature misogynist. Truth be told, “Bound to Vengeance” is unpleasant but it’s also not the worst movie I’ve seen all year. In its rare moments it’s a fine revenge thriller about a woman getting her vengeance on her kidnapper. In its worst moments, it’s unpleasant and kind of stupid.
Cravioto lacks any artistic flair, opting for a grimy and gross film that turns its heroine in to a dunce who can’t really pull anything off half of the time. Much of what happens involving her revenge is by pure dumb luck. Sure she seems to show ingenuity sometimes, as she proves by her ability to build an animal snatcher out of a shower rod and piece of wire. But then there are times where she could display some kind of common sense since she has her own and many other lives on the line. Tina Ivlev gives a powerful and commanding performance as Eve, a young girl who is being held hostage in a basement by villain Phil. After beating him near death with a piece of brick, she breaks out. But she knows of other victims like her and forces Phil to show her where they’re being held so she can break them free.
She never thinks to go to the police and perhaps let them handle Phil, but again, Eve has moments of pure ineptitude. Richard Tyson’s performance is top notch as well. The man can play douchebaggery in his sleep, and as Phil, he’s a threatening antagonist who proves to be a match for Eve. They not only trade barbs back and forth, but they force a battle of wits that leaves Eve’s life hanging by a cord quite often. Much of the proceedings involving Eve breaking out the victims range from baffling to quite sick, as director Craviato seems to have little disregard for exploring empathetic victims, so he paints one of them in gore involving a sick death, and another displays a cruel sense of Stockholm syndrome that puts Eve in a tough corner in one instance.
This is all inter-cut with video footage of Eve at a carnival with her boyfriend Donny, which is jarring at times, but leads to a twist that’s pretty predictable all things considered. I saw the big reveal coming miles away, and just wanted the film to get to it already. “Bound to Vengeance” is obviously a mixed bag of twists and annoying turns, but if taken as revenge exploitation cinema, it’s entertaining fodder. Plus you can’t deny that the performances are fantastic, especially Ivlev, who really takes the role in to dark places. It’s tough to hate anything Richard Tyson is in. “Bound to Vengeance” will definitely be a polarizing film, but it kept my attention. I wanted to see how Eve would fare, so I recommend it only to a niche audience that can appreciate this kind of exploitative fare.