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Trailer Watch: Stewart Thorndike’s Bad Things

After world premiering at the Tribeca Festival in June, a trailer officially arrives for Bad Things, writer-director Stewart Thorndike’s follow-up to her 2014 debut Lyle. While her first film was a lesbian riff on Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, Bad Things is overtly influenced by Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Shining.

In my interview with Thorndike out of Tribeca, I detail the film’s plot in an introductory paragraph:

Ruthie (Gayle Rankin) is debating whether or not to sell the now-derelict hotel her mother used to run years prior. With a decisive real estate meeting only days away, Ruthie assembles a rag-tag team to keep her company in the snow-shrouded hotel while she waits for her (predictably unreliable) mother to arrive so they can jointly hash out the hotel’s future. She brings her girlfriend Cal (Hari Nef, clad in a vintage Hole pullover) and buddy Maddie (played by Rad Pereira, who not-so-subtly pines over Cal). Crashing their intimate winter getaway is Fran (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), Ruthie’s ex who’s clearly not over their past tryst (though Ruthie might not be, either). Yet their chilly visit promises more than just tentative business deals and star-crossed romantic tension. As they become essentially entrapped indoors by the elements, increasingly strange phenomena begins to unfold: apparitions of lithe identical women jogging in place, body doubles wielding dangerous weapons, a dreamy realtor clearly not of this spiritual realm (marvelously embodied by Molly Ringwald). As these psychological trips mount, so does a very real and bloody body count.

Elaborating on the similarity between her film and Kubrick’s, Thorndike told me:

With The Shining, as I was writing the script, it came from, as we said before, the gut—all instinct. Then you start to realize there are similarities there that you can’t deny. But I certainly avoided watching the movie because I saw the similarities. I wrote the two models jogging [in the script], and it was only while we were shooting that someone said, “Oh, are you trying to have them be like the [Grady] twins?” I was like, “What? I never thought of that.” So it’s some sort of instinct, compulsion or drive that makes me do it.

Bad Things will hit the horror streamer Shudder and AMC+ on August 18. Watch the trailer above.

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