Rites of Passage (2011)
A group of friends come between a man and his Shamanic journey into the afterlife.
Rites of Passage
102 min
Wes Bentley, Stephen Dorff, Christian Slater
Peter Iliff
United States
$0 USD
$0 USD
On the property of Rose Ranch, a lonely man named BENNY creeps into his family's abandoned greenhouse. He kneels down next to a bed of Jimsonweed flowers and says a little incantation in their honor. Suddenly, an eccentric groundskeeper named DELGADO jumps out to scare him. Annoyed, Benny takes his Jimsonweed and leaves. Delgado is Benny's sole employee. Not quite all there, he cooks Crystal meth in an adjacent greenhouse and talks to an imaginary sock monkey that sits perched on top of his loaded shotgun --which he carries everywhere. Benny retreats to his bungalow, which is located on the family's premises. It is decorated with Chumash Indian artifacts and remnants. He prepares the Jimsonweed to be made into a tea and drinks it. Almost immediately, the brew has a hallucinogenic effect on Benny. All hopped up, he climbs into his van and drives toward the University of California at Santa Barbara. A big party is taking place at the school. Intoxicated teenagers mill about everywhere. Benny spots a young, brunette girl on her bike. He follows her in his van, all the while a grizzly bear reflection keeps appearing to him in his rear view mirror. Nearby, a group of college students sit and chat in a coffee shop. They all have books open for a study session. Among the students is NATHAN, a book-worm type who seems like a nice guy. Next to him, DANI, troubled but pretty, frets over an upcoming exam. They discuss an old painting in one of their textbooks. In it, a Chumash Indian is depicted as being brutalized by a Spanish Soldier. Despite being a Chumash Indian herself, Dani remains unmoved by the picture...stating that she doesn't feel connected to her ancestors. As Dani starts to stress more and more about her exams, she has a panic attack. She is calmed down with some Xanax from her pocketbook, which also includes Ritalin, Zoloft and various other prescriptions. Next to Nathan and Dani, an ex-marine named HART focuses on some calculus. Beside him sit MOOSE & SQUIRREL the token couple of the group. Following Dani's anxiety, they all decide that they've studied enough & head for the party. Benny is still on campus. He watches Nathan & friends approach the party. He is particularly enamored with Dani due to her Chumash features and begins to follow them. As the friends binge drink and party, MOJO films it all. Meanwhile, Hart begins to flirt with a girl named PENELOPE. They head back to a room but are interrupted by Dani and a frat guy who are looking for privacy of their own. The two couples begin to "interact" but when things get too weird for Penelope, she takes off. Outside, Benny is still lurking. People begin to notice, but he's too messed up to even be responsive. He barely even objects when drunk kids begin to write things like "creeper" all over his face. Suddenly, Nathan notices what's going on and reveals that Benny is his brother. However, Nathan has no clue what Benny is doing and is unable to get a reasonable explanation from his brother. Benny sees Penelope leaving the party. She looks like Dani. Before Nathan can stop him, Benny follows her in his van. As Benny drives, he again sees flashes of a Grizzly bear. He hallucinates continually, but never loses sight of Penelope. We get a shot of Benny pouring Chloroform into a rag held on his lap. Once nobody is around on the road, Benny veers into Penelope's bike with his van. This sends her crashing into the dirt. He gets out of his car and approaches Penelope. From Benny's POV, we see Penelope turn into a Chumash princess "beckoning him to pick her up in his loving arms." He swoops down and attacks her with the chloroform. The morning after the party, the friends all hang out. Meanwhile, Nathan goes to the bathroom only to find Dani puking & embarrassed after her antics the previous night. He comforts her and it becomes apparent that he is romantically interested in Dani. Later, Hart finds Nathan going through some Native American anthropology stuff from his family's property. It is clear that, like his brother, Nathan has a special interest in the Chumash culture. Hart attempts to warn Nathan about how much Dani parties, but Nathan doesn't care. Then, Moose & Squirrel enter the room. They discuss Benny's proclamation that he must take his bride and, "pass together through the western gate." Nathan explains that his brother was just on drugs, and that a few years prior, he had cracked under the pressure of being a stock trader. Chalking it up to stress, Nathan shrugs off his brother's bizarre behavior. Back at the Rose Ranch, Benny wakes up sober. It slowly dawns on him that he has captured Penelope and tied her up in his industrial cooler. While at first he feels terrible, he comes to realize just how beautiful she is. After beginning to let her go, he re-duct tapes her mouth. At school, PROFESSOR NASH leads a class all about the Chumash culture. He explains that certain Shaman believed that they could shape shift and evoke the spirit world. Nash explains about the effects of Jimsonweed tea. He also explains that the Were-Bear in Shaman culture is also highly regarded, as well as highly feared. Again, Dani scoffs at her own heritage which leaves Nash deeply saddened, as he respects the Chumash culture a great deal. After class, Nathan approaches Nash. Nash agrees to let Nathan do a group project on his family's property for school credit. Nathan explains that the property was an Indian burial ground at one point. Nash agrees to come along for the project/ceremony as well. On the day of Nathan's project, Benny is still holding Penelope captive. He continues to prepare for his ritual in which they are both to ingest enough of the Jimsonweed potion to cause them to travel into the afterlife together. Despite Benny's efforts to hold Penelope hostage, she escapes and makes a frantic run for help. At the same time, Nathan and his friends drive onto the property. Penelope sees the cars and attempts to wave them down. However, Benny gains on her. Due to exhaustion, she trips in her frenzy to escape and falls headfirst into the greenhouse wall. The glass breaks and comes crashing down on top of her in shards, ultimately killing her. As Penelope bleeds out, Nathan is grief stricken. Yet, he notices the cars approaching and hides her body quickly. At this point, Delgado stumbles upon the site where Penelope died. Upon seeing the blood and broken glass, he begins to argue with himself, and his imaginary friend, about the reality of the situation. As Delgado is always on crystal meth, he grapples with the possibilities. Nathan and his friends park their cars. They leave their phones behind because there is no service on the property. Benny bombards Nathan and insists that they must leave. Nathan argues that he has a right to the property as well and refuses. However, Nathan also notices Benny's disheveled appearance and becomes worried. When Nathan points out the blood on Benny's shoes, Benny insists that he killed a raccoon. Benny is about to turn Nathan's friends away again when he realizes Dani is there. Seeing her Chumash features again, he decides that he must make her his new bride. He allows the kids to stay. Delgado notices the students and freaks out. Convinced that his meth lab cover will be blown, he decides that he must get them off the premises. Benny is off spying on Dani through binoculars when Squirrel and Moose stumble upon him. Thoroughly creeped out, Squirrel begins to harass Benny. It isn't long before Delgado shows up and joins in the altercation. The verbal fight escalates into a ridiculous physical one. By the end of it, Delgado has tweaked out and knocked both kids unconscious. At this point, he tries to convince Benny that he needs to kill the kids because they've seen too much. Benny agrees but tells Delgado to flee...Benny will finish them off. Benny also admits to Delgado that he's planning on killing himself and taking Dani with him. He only asks that Nathan remains safe. Benny and Delgado kill the couple & put the two bodies in the back of their car. They steal the keys from Squirrel's pocket and drive off. Nathan sees Squirrel's car leaving and assumes the couple has taken off early. Benny leaves the car in the woods. Benny soon begins to repair the ceremonial room that Penelope had thrashed about in. Delgado begins to pack up his things to flee. A newspaper clipping on his wall catches his eye. He picks up the clipping and re-reads it for the millionth time. It states, "UCSB student charged with manslaughter." The headline of the paper reads that Delgado's wife and child were killed by a drunk driver. His child holds a sock puppet identical to Delgado's imaginary friend. Suddenly, Delgado proclaims that he'll, "kill every last one of them." He throws on a ski mask, grabs his gun, and heads out into the night. Benny continues to stalk his brother & company. When Nathan goes to prepare some herbal tea for their mock ceremony ...Benny spikes it with a potent dose of Jimsonweed. Before the ceremony, Nathan explains that an old, oak tree on the property was never cut down because it was rumored to have mystical powers. According to legend, if a Chumash spirit was not allowed to pass into the next world, for some reason, their spirits were forever trapped in the tree. Benny hands out tea to everyone, but only a few people (including professor Nash) drink it before they decide that it tastes funny. The remainder of the group drink tequila and smoke. Around this time, Benny realizes that Delgado has not left. Instead, Delgado goes on a rampage where he begins to kill stragglers of the group who have wandered off. Benny only feebly attempts to stop him because he has his own agenda. The Jimsonweed starts to seriously effect Nash and another girl named ROXANNE who had ingested it. Nathan, totally clueless, can't explain their sickness. Finally, Hart and Nathan realize that Benny spiked the tea, and that they're all in danger. Roxanne begins to vomit & seizure. Nash wanders off, chasing after his hallucinations. He has a death vision in which he follows an old Shaman man into a forest, peacefully. Hart finds Delgado as he is terrorizing Mojo in the greenhouse. He begins to fight him off, but his leg gets caught in a bear trap Delgado had set up. Delgado kills Mojo and then rushes toward where the others are. Benny finally captures Dani during all of the chaos. After poisoning her with chloroform, he drags her to the industrial cooler. It is too late before Nathan even realizes. Benny force feeds Dani Jimsonweed tea and prepares for the ceremony. He drinks the tea as well. Nathan hurries to save Dani. He rushes to the bungalow in search of clues. He finds a drawing of the ceremony and recognizes the cooler. By the time Nathan reaches the cooler, Delgado is on his heels. Delgado fires round after round trying to capture Nathan. Nathan begs Delgado to help his dying friend, but Delgado shows no mercy. Hart scrambles in with the bear trap still attached to his leg. Delgado is about to shoot at him when the cooler door opens suddenly. In Benny's drug induced haze, he opens his arms to Delgado in an intimidating, bear like fashion. Delgado takes it as a threat and shoots Benny down. At the distraction, Nathan tackles Delgado and shoves him into an open insecticide tank. Delgado flails as his skin burns. Nathan quickly shuts him in the tank, leaving him to disintegrate. Realizing that he's losing time, Nathan runs to find Dani unconscious, foaming at the mouth. From Dani's POV, we see a death vision similar to the one Nash had. Only this time, the elderly Chumash realizes that she is a non believer and turns her back away from the forrest. Dani comes to as paramedics are reviving her. Benny is not as lucky. He dies of blood loss. From Benny's POV, we see the same death vision, yet again. In his, though, the elderly man beckons him into the forest where a bear then rips him to shreds. Weeks later, Dani has a nightmare in which Delgado has returned for vengeance. She wakes with a start to find herself in Nathan's arms under the old, oak tree. In her hands is a newspaper. It reveals, "Rose Ranch Massacre Survivor was Drunk Driver Who Killed Fugitive's Wife & Son." Dani wonders if Delgado was aware that she had been the driver responsible for the death of his family. Nathan assures her that it doesn't matter now because he's gone. Dani looks at the branches of the Chumash tree, still uneasy. She explains that it doesn't matter if they're gone, "the things we've done come back around." Through an owl hole in the tree, Benny's tortured spirit remains in eternal despair, left behind by the departed Chumash....more
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