Plot threads and character arcs dangling in the emptiness of it all; “BAD THINGS”

Stewart Thorndike, the writer and director of the new horror film “Bad Things” loves “The Shining.” Thorndike really loves that picture and doesn’t want his audience to forget it, so he reminds us over and over again.

While many a great film has been crafted out of homages to other works, it helps to have an endgame regarding your screenplay.

These proceedings start out well enough as we are introduced to Ruthie (Gayle Rankin), a twenty-something who has inherited a hotel called Comely Suites from her mother.

Ruthie’s relationship with her mother is distant and odd, as her mother never returns her calls but leaves random text messages that don’t say much beyond “I love you.”

Even more disturbing is Ruthie’s connection to the hotel. There is something sinister about the way she is drawn to it and the effect it has on her psyche is the most dangerous of all.

Ruthie and her friends decide to spend the weekend to check everything out and maybe have some bonding fun. She brings along her girlfriend Cal (a solid Hari Nef), Maddie (Rad Periera) and Fran (Annabelle Dexter-Jones).

As the isolation of the empty hotel sets in, strange things begin to happen. The location may or may not be messing with Fran and Ruthie’s minds, and it could very well be haunted.

The constant feeling of dread seeps through the hallways and dishevels the characters until distrust and jealousy open the door to blood violence and a terrible secret.

The four characters’ friendship is the heart of the screenplay, but very soon the romantic deceptions and betrayals become dull in the scheme of things. The script is nothing beyond the setup and the rest is silence.

Try as they might, the four leads have no apparent chemistry. The fault is not theirs, as it is Thorndike that lets them down. The writer/director takes his story and its characters for a ride but drops them at the end of an empty street.

The ideas found in “Bad Things” go absolutely nowhere and when the director runs out of homages to “The Shining,” plot threads and character arcs dangle in the emptiness of it all.

There are promises of giving the genre a much-needed shot at female and LGBTQ empowerment and perhaps a good Stephen King-esque examination of twisted mother-daughter dynamics. After the first thirty or so minutes, the film fails to make good on the audience’s expectations. Thorndike just cannot find anywhere interesting for it all to go.

Besides the performance of Hari Nef (an actress to watch) and a supporting turn by Molly Ringwald the cinematography is the biggest draw here.

Grant Greenberg’s camera snakes through the hotel rooms and hallways, giving the film a cold and unsettling vibe that is quite effective in the film’s first half.

Too many moments in Thorndike’s film fail to make sense. When Ruthie begins to be affected by the hotel, she sees a vision or two. Later, Fran sees even more ghostly visions of things that could (as we find out later) only be known to Ruthie. The other two never have visions. In fact, whatever is happening in the hotel seems to leave Cal and Maddie out of it.

Maddie seems to sleep most of the film away and only comes into a scene to gripe, while Cal has a sweetness that is infectious until the film resorts to making her shriek and cry over and over again.

Visions come and go without explanation, characters aren’t fully formed, the film’s lead is flat and uninteresting, and any promise of a good horror tale goes out the window fast. By the time the film reaches its preposterous conclusion, there’s anger.

“Bad Things” is dramatically unfocused, flimsy and lacking in chills severely. Wearing its tribute to “The Shining” on its sleeve, all that Thorndike’s film accomplishes is to make audiences hunger for Kubrick’s film.