Rites of Passage is an odd horror film about... Well, I'm not really sure if it was about anything. There were characters, there was relationship drama, there was a plot, there were moments that were supposed to be scary, but the movie lacked a central focus. The characters are thinly-written and one-note. There are no clear protagonists or antagonists. The sheer number of characters that are supposed to play major roles in the plot makes it difficult to truly develop them within the given hour and forty-two minutes. I suppose I'll give a plot synopsis so that I can elaborate upon certain issues later.
Nathan is an anthropology student that takes a trip to his family's abandon ranch on the beach, which is also a sacred Chumash burial ground. He invites some friends, as well as his teacher. His teacher is dating one of Nathan's friends, Sandee, and she is stripping online for another friend of Nathan's. Living near the aforementioned ranch are two insane drug users; Nathan's brother Benny and a gun owner named Delgado. When Benny is high, he takes one of Nathan's friends hostage and prepares to have a marital ceremony with her. After the girl he took hostage escapes, she is killed; he tries to kidnap Nathan's love interest, Dani, instead. Meanwhile, the teacher discovers that Sandee has been stripping online; she gravitates towards the guy that had been watching her strip. While this is happening, Delgado and Benny get into a fight with two of Nathan's friends. Delgado ends up killing one of them and severely injuring the other. Eventually, Delgado tries to kill all of the college students, though the sock monkey he imagines on his gun advises him against it. Nathan and Dani discover that Benny is evil, but Benny takes Dani captive before Nathan can really do anything to stop him. In an attempt to kill Dani, Delgado shoots Benny. I think that Benny imagines Dani making a reference to The Shining about being together "forever and ever ever..." Nathan kills Delgado, then rescues Dani before she commits suicide after a panic attack. By the end of the film, only Dani, Nathan and one of Nathan's male friends have survived. The final scenes depict Delgado somehow being revived and running out of the ranch, perhaps to kill the surviving three students.
Oh, and I think that Benny believed that he was a bear shaman or something.
All of the hallucination scenes were odd. That's the only word I can really use to describe them. They weren't hilariously quirky or disturbing in any way; they were just unusual. As a whole, Rites of Passage is pretty unusual. It isn't really generic, but it isn't spectacularly original. I haven't seen anything like it, but it isn't breaking any new ground in the horror genre. Nothing truly interesting is done with the characters, while on the other hand, certain plot elements seemed fresh.
I usually hate it when people ask this question, but why was this movie made? It certainly wasn't out of corporate greed; this is a straight-to-DVD horror flick without much of a viral marketing campaign. I highly doubt that this was a passion project; nothing seems to be particularly important to the writer(s) or director.
The acting is... I don't know. I think that most of the actors tried their best, but they weren't given very much to do. The script was... It was fine. It was dumb, but it wasn't offensively idiotic. The direction was full, and it failed to scare. Rites of Passage is undeniably bad, but it offers so little that it's very difficult to hate.