On the whole, women have had a rough time of in the horror genre. Often the vulnerable, naive damsel in distress – they can mostly be found wearing skimpy outfits, with a very deliberate splashing of blood on their person, blurring the line between gore and glamour, while often superfluously sexualised in the process. So with that in mind, films such as Bound to Vengeance should be commended – a horror movie that puts the woman in charge, where the power balance is tipped in the opposite direction to which we’re used to – but José Manuel Cravioto’s gratuitous, exploitative picture is not the film we’re after, as a counter-productive, pseudo-feminist endeavour that somehow manages to subvert its own initial subversions.

Tina Ivlev impresses as Eve, a young woman who has been help captive, chained up in the basement of the sinister, sexual predator Phil (Richard Tyson). Until one day, when she’s able to knock her captor out cold with a brick, to then formulate an escape plan. But when realising she’s in the middle of nowhere, she returns to the house – and upon discovering there are many other girls in the same predicament she was, she attempts to torture Phil until learning of their whereabouts. But as he bluntly puts it, he’s the only person who knows where they are, so without him, they all die – and so the pair strike a deal, whereby Eve promises to take him to the hospital, if he first takes her to the other victims, as she turns the tables on her captor and sets off into the unforgiving night.

It’s interesting that we only ever see the payback, as the title opens with Eve’s escape. Though a unique way of presenting a revenge thriller of this nature, perhaps a little longer setting the scene and witnessing the victim as being the victim, may have helped to form the emotional bond required between the protagonist and the viewer, which is more challenging to establish since we only ever see the character in control of the situation. There are narrative similarities to Oldboy, particularly in how we attempt to piece together Eve’s situation, as she strives fearlessly for answers about her confinement and how it transpired. It’s within this sense of ambiguity where the film actually works, thriving in the notion of mystery, and what we don’t know, with questions marks hanging over the involvement of Eve’s ex-boyfriend Ronnie (Kristoffer Kojornes), who we see from old home-video footage, clumsily implemented throughout this amateurish endeavour.

Ivlev is undoubtedly a talented actress, and even when dealt with such a poorly crafted character we can gather that much – but she’s undermined, persistently, by the screenplay. Though presented as something of an empowering film for female audiences, it’s devalued by the supporting cast, as the collection of victims Eve strives to save, go wildly against this progressive idea of having formidable, dominant female roles in the genre. Not to mention the contrived attempt to provoke a sense of sympathy for the devil, as Cravioto vies to humanise the role of Phil. To blur the line between good and evil and go against the grain is often appreciated, but in this instance, ramping up the overstated elements, and thriving in archetypal heroes/villains would suit the playful nature of this affectionately conventional revenge thriller, where pantomime like antagonists would help to enrich the narrative.

There’s too much violence without the correct context nor reasoning behind it, thrown in simply for the sake of it, while there’s a distinct lack of linearity to this clunky horror. One of it’s few saving graces, however, is that it falls short of the 80 minute mark, at least ensuring that our lack of enjoyment is limited to a comparatively short period of time.