By D. E. Athkins.
Jamie is overjoyed about the impending marriage of her supermodel cousin, Blaine, to super-rich playboy, Pres. As a bridesmaid, she has been invited to join the wedding party early, for a couple of days of rehearsals and parties. There’s just one hitch: the magnificent wedding venue is haunted by a vengeful bride who died after being jilted years previously. Jamie gets a visit from the spectre on her first evening there, and from that point on a series of strange happenings suggests that the ghostly bride, or perhaps someone more corporeal, will stop at nothing to prevent Blaine and Pres’s wedding.
Luckily, there are plenty of other young people in the wedding party for Jamie to confide in, whilst serving the dual purpose of providing a cast of suspects. Blaine’s frenemy, the acerbic Alison, and another fellow supermodel, Kelly, take Jamie under their wings. Alison is the most likeable character of the piece (both despite, and because of, her on-point bitchiness) and the story is at its most engaging whenever she pops up. Kelly’s brother, Drew, is disconcertingly keen on Jamie from the second they meet, instantly and artificially cementing his role as romantic interest. The other bridesmaids are there solely as potential perps: Patricia, Pres’s ex-girlfriend who resents Blaine for stealing her man, and Pres’s sister, Stephanie, representing the Alden family, who openly disapprove of the marriage. And finally, Blaine’s mousy assistant, Clara, whose every appearance is tediously accompanied by the suggestion that she’s ‘not what she seems’.
So, The Bride presents us with plenty of characters, all with their own motives (even Blaine, it is suggested, could be courting publicity by sabotaging her own wedding). But there are not enough clues for us to deduce who the perpetrator is, or what their motivation might be, by any rational thinking. The story is a mystery; not a whodunit. A fast paced final section, in which concurrent snapshots of what each of the main players is doing at that moment, builds tension and creates suspense for the grand reveal. Unfortunately, the finale does not take advantage of this genuinely exciting build-up, and the ghost’s last hurrah is a wasted opportunity for a good scare. No sooner does the ‘ghoul’ show up than we find out who is behind the curtain. It is an unsatisfactory ending to a story which struggles to ever fully get off the ground.
The Bride is more mystery than horror. The concept of a ‘ghost bride’ has great scare potential, but the descriptions of her are frustratingly brief and vague. If D. E. Athkins had focused more on the tragic spectre and less on her earthbound cast of suspects, The Bride might have scared up a higher fear factor rating than…