Black Ridge Movie Review
Written by Charlotte Stear
Written and directed by Ryan Swantek
2018, 6 minutes
Chenara Imrith as Vera
Kerry Hempel as Kat
Seth Goodfellow as Ivan
Clinton Bailiff as Man
Jada Poon as Woman
Oren Biton as Bodyguard One
Ryan Swantek as Bodyguard Two
Panther Ridge is a six minute short film by Ryan Swanktek set in a BDSM dungeon. The film begins with Vera, a new starter nervous about her first time with a client, but she is assured by the dungeon owner that everything will be fine. Vera is introduced to their experienced dominatrix, Kat, and told to follow her lead, however things take an extreme turn very quickly.
The film was shot with no budget so keeping it to one location has worked in their favour, but having a low budget doesn’t excuse the lack of story or progression of characters. Six minutes is an incredibly short time to try and convey a story or character arc, but it can be done. The issue with Panther Ridge is there no explanation for any of the events on screen, the seemingly nervous new girl Vera is swayed instantly into extreme torture with no reasoning or much resistance. Vera looks nervous for a few seconds, but then starts slashing away at the victim. This could be in part to a rather inexperienced cast, but there is also the mystery of why a man and his family member are treated the way they are. Nothing is explained so it leaves you feeling empty rather than the many varied emotions extreme horror can leave on its audience, which is largely down to a poor script. There’s obviously something sinister lurking beneath the surface as the acts performed are being filmed and transmitted to an unknown audience, but that in itself is so familiar and any chance of a new angle or twist never comes.
Another issue is how the use of BDSM feels like an obvious and cliched approach for a dark torture porn film, and something that the horror community would be fairly sick of seeing by now. Possibly writer and director Swanktek has experience in this world so feels he is voicing something new for them, but that’s not how it comes across on screen.
Short movies have it cut out for them to get every element just right to have an impact on its audience. There is such a small window to say what you need to say and Panther Ridge needs to focus on what it wants to portray and what it wants to evoke from its audience. As it stands, it is an empty film that uses torture as a tool to shock, but does nothing we’ve not seen done before. Gore hounds will be left feeling bored and everyone else asking why it was made in the first place.
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