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Review: Bark (2023): A Thriller, Fantastic Fest, and Heaven of Horror


BARK is a new thriller screening at Fantastic Fest 2023. A German production but only English is spoken. It takes place almost exclusively in a forest except for a few flashbacks. A slow-burner mystery with a delicious (and brutal) twist at the end. Read our full Bark movie review here!

VIDEO: BARK (2023) [MOVIE REVIEW] (Spoiler Free!) | ( Fantastic Fest 2023)
Team JVS

BARK is a new thriller having its world premiere at Fantastic Fest 2023. In this movie, we meet a man tied to a tree in the middle of a forest. No one is around for miles and he has no way of getting himself out of the situation. But why is he there and who has placed him in this rather brutal predicament?

Well, one could quickly argue that he did it himself. I mean, being left tied to a tree does appear like a punishment or revenge meaning he did something to end up in this situation. You’ll have to watch the movie to find out the answers – and see how he fares in the situation. And yes, you will want to watch this movie.

Continue reading our Bark movie review below.

Victim or perpetrator? Both perhaps?!

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The main character, Nolan Bentley (Michael Weston), may seem like an Average Joe. He could be a decent guy who is just caught up in a terrible situation. Then again, when you wake up tied to a tree, there’s a good chance you’re not entirely innocent. Being tied up with your hands behind your back, with no water or food in sight is a pretty brutal predicament.

This is how Nolan has been left by someone and how he stays for a couple of days. Then something new and strange happens; A man pitches a tent right next to him. This outdoorsman even starts talking to him as if the situation isn’t extremely absurd.

As a result, it doesn’t take long for Nolan to realize that this guy won’t be his savior. Neither Nolan nor the audience is sure why, but the outdoorsman will not intervene. However, Nolan does have a tendency to lose his temper quickly and say things that aren’t exactly helping him. Maybe part of the explanation can be found in this behavior.

Having these two characters, Nolan and the Outdoorsman (A.J. Buckley), as our guides in the story, we need to try and gauge the situation. Is Nolan the victim in this situation? The story is told in a way that keeps us wondering, but we do get the answers to all these questions.

Even though it supposedly takes place in the US, and the only language spoken is English, this is actually a German production. In fact, the forest scenes are shot in Hamburg. Movie magic at its best, but of course one could argue that forests don’t necessarily look that different.

In any case, most of the movie does actually play out in the forest. We only ever see other locations during flashbacks.

The brutal and delicious ending of BARK

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Ghost Pirate Entertainment

This is a mystery and quite a slow-burner, but it never gets boring and the ending is gorgeous. Suddenly, I was completely on board with the punishment this man was enduring.

The person in charge of the punishment is working with a sort of John Kramer (aka Jigsaw) code. Well, in terms of having someone acknowledge their wrongdoings, anyway. Exactly what these “wrongs” are is revealed in the end, so you won’t be left hanging. To be fair, he has done a lot of things wrong in his life and is an actual douchebag.

However, he is being punished for one thing in particular.

On a personal note, I found The Outdoorsman to be an absolute hero. Along with the ending of Mushrooms (a Polish movie also world premiering at Fantastic Fest 2023), this is my favorite movie ending in a long time.

BARK is world premiering at Fantastic Fest 2023

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Bark comes from the German director Marc Schölermann. Just like the Polish director of Mushrooms, he also made a name for himself directing commercials. This is the second feature film from Marc Schölermann. His first feature film was the 2008 horror-thriller Pathology starring Milo Ventimiglia and Alyssa Milano to name just a few of the familiar faces in it.

Hopefully, we won’t be waiting more than a decade for this third feature film. The screenplay was written by Steve Fauquier, who has a few more productions underway, so we’ll be keeping our eye out for those as well.

It seems like a theme for all the screenings we’ve enjoyed at Fantastic Fest 2023 (and we really have enjoyed them) that mystery is the driving force. The same applies for this one, but the man in the woods tied to a tree also seems like a douchebag. As such, it seems obvious that he’s done something to end up in the situation, but being curious creatures, we still need to know what.

When we finally learn the full and complete truth, it makes for an ending that results in me rooting for the punisher. I don’t know that this is necessarily a good thing, but it did feel good to see him punished for his heinous actions. You’ll see!

BARK is having its world premiere at Fantastic Fest 2023. We’ll update this review with a wide release date when we have them. 

Details

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Crystal Cleveland

Director: Marc Schölermann
Writer: Steve Fauquier
Stars: Michael Weston, A.J. Buckley, Crazy Horse, Lennon Sickels

Plot

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A businessman tied to a tree deep in the woods struggles to convince an outdoorsman to cut him free after the hunter sets up camp to watch him die.

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