Originally screened in 2011, Bunnyman at first glance is a ridiculous movie, one with a supposedly terrible screenplay, hideous acting, and lackluster direction. Although the movie does suffer from a limited budget, watching Bunnyman as parody and satire may key in many horrorhounds who dismissed it outright upon initial screening. Seen like this, Bunnyman is an effective flick, although in some ways the movie just does not go far enough, particularly when it comes to the blood and gore.
At its core, the movie showcases a killer family, much like those in flicks like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes. In this instance, the “Bunnyman” is a misshapen brute who dons a costume presumably of Bugs Bunny or a generic variation thereof. There is also a young woman (Lucia Sullivin)—the sanest of the trio, which is not saying much, as well as a gimp of sorts who likes to wear night-vision goggles. This trio not only murders at will, they also eat their victims and keep all their stuff for later use.
The movie kicks off with Bunnyman chasing down and dispatching one female victim, as seen through Super 8 film stock. The movie proper gets started as Bunnyman chases a second female victim, who finds temporary recluse inside the bed of a large truck. Unbeknownst to her, Bunnyman is actually driving the truck. Before he can finish this victim off, Bunnyman spots a six pack of victims in a four-door sedan. In the car are the usual teenage idiots, who can’t figure out that an automobile is much faster and maneuverable than a packing truck. The resulting sequences are similar to Duel, although the underpowered car driven by Dennis Weaver was no match for the semi tormenting him.
The victims soon crash the car and are left on foot, where they are pestered by Bunnyman and his cohorts until one by one they are dispatched. Various recognizable scenes take place, including a dinner ritual, chainsaw mayhem, and of course an encounter with a horny hillbilly.
The movie’s climax has the two lead victims turn the tables on the cannibal slashers, escaping into the dawn. A coda shows a wounded Bunnyman returning to his lair. The end credits (in Super 8 again) hint at a possible explanation for the origin of the Bunnyman and his cohorts.
Written and directed by Carl Lindbergh, Bunnyman is a surreal, at times violent, and weird movie. Those who have seen their share of slasher and B-movie horror flicks will recognize the patterns throughout. Moreover, those who enjoy biting sarcasm will also note that the movie is full of it. There are the overt nods, including the stupid bunnyman suit (Motel Hell, anyone?) and the hillbilly encounter, but there are also some subtle nods, some which may even annoy viewers. For example, the six-pack of victims are annoying in the extreme, making some of the stupidest moves ever and then fighting among themselves soon after doing them. The obligatory scene in which the female slasher talks to her female victim drips with parody and is worth watching several times.
If anything, Bunnyman simply does not go far enough, particularly when it comes to the blood and gore. The opening scene is perhaps the most intense and graphic sequence, with director Lindbergh pulling away the camera in subsequent scenes. Some will not that this is in keeping with early genre movies of this type (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is surprisingly bloodless), but what Lindbergh fails to recognize and pull off is the exhaustive intensity that makes such movies work in the first place. Although Lindbergh does capture the essence of such scenes, he fails to execute them to their fullest, and thus viewers will be left wanting more and more.
There is an urban legend about the “bunny man,” but this movie does not have any overt references to it. The urban legend refers to an inmate who escaped from a transport heading to a new asylum prison in Clifton, Virginia. It is said that this insane criminal at his victims—he was known as “the bunny man” because police found the remains of another escape inmate close to a bridge overpass known as “Bunny Man Bridge.”
Bunnyman is not for everyone. However, those who like cheering the death of idiotic victims, enjoy some carnage, and relish identifying inspirational sources for key scenes will get a kick out of this flick. The movie would have fared better with some more character development on both ends (victim and slasher), as there is simply not enough to explain why the slasher trio does what it does. There are hints in the movie, as well as the credits coda, but not enough to piece together successfully.