Gus Krieger’s debut feature is certainly an intriguing one, brimming full of religion and ultimately exploring the concept of faith in the almighty. To some, the religious aspect may be a tad heavy; to others, the film may be an interesting exploration of the intensity and strong will involved in such dedication and belief - but is the end product actually any good?
The focus of The Binding centres on the heavily religious married couple of Bram (Josh Heisler) and Sarah (Amy Gumenick) and their young daughter. Firm believers in the church and all it entails – they even have a slanted, prejudicial outlook on their gay neighbours – the two live their life by ‘the good book’, highlighted none better than by Bram’s work as a pastor. Things all start to take a turn for the strange, though, when Bram claims to have been visited by the presence of God himself, who instructs him that something big is coming and that Bram will become the Lord’s right hand man. That something big, worryingly, is soon revealed to be that God claims Bram has to kill his infant daughter in order to stop the apocalypse.
What follows is a tense affair that throws up a plethora of questions. For starters, is it really God who visited Bram, is this pastor simply cracking up, or could there be a more evil nature to these goings on? And then there’s the taboo issue of whether Bram should actually go through with what the Lord tells him and actually cut the heart out of his own child. Added to this, there’s the extreme strain put of Bram and Sarah’s marriage by this whole ordeal and the orders being given from Him upstairs.
Whilst it's Josh Heisler’s Bram who is the one at the centre of the plot, it’s Amy Gumenick, likely best known to genre fans as Arrow’s Cupid, who is the star of the show. Gumenick puts in a strong, multi-faceted performance that marks her out as a real talent. That’s not to say Heisler is poor here, for he also puts in a fine turn as the possessed pastor faced with the ultimate test of his faith. In fact, for such a low budget effort, The Binding is remarkably well put together in terms of the performances of its central cast and also in how Heisler has structured his film.
Granted, certain elements of the movie are a little predictable, but there’s enough well-crafted moments here to make the film constantly engaging, and there are in fact a few twists along the road as the film unravels its narrative. What’s impressive about The Binding is that despite the hugely religious overtones, it manages to appeal to both those of a religious nature and those who think that the notion of a creator and higher power sitting up in the sky is as believable as a Rolf Harris testimony.
All in all, The Binding is certainly worth a watch, is full of impressive performances, is built up and delivered well, and may just surprise you in more ways than one as it marks Gus Krieger out as a talent to keep an eye on.
THE BINDING / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: GUS KRIEGER / STARRING: AMY GUMENICK, JOSH HEISLER, MAX ADLER, LEON RUSSOM, STUART PANKIN / RELEASE DATE: TBC