Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another Quick Fire Horror Movie Review. Bah, we have been reviewing some utter crap lately. I mean, just look at this line up. Headgame, Choose or Die, Come Play, Baby Ruby, Re/Member, Don’t Kill Me. For a moment there, the front page was starting to look like the toilet bowl of a public lavatory. Awful. Unfortunately, we have another skid mark to add to the veritable porcelain today. We are taking a look at Brad Anderson’s Blood.
I say skid mark but that may be a bit harsh. This is more of an unflushed piece of toilet paper. Blood is boring, derivative, nonsensical and just a bit bad. Hence why we are covering it in our Quick Fire Review section. Still, it is fairly watchable if you have a high tolerance for slow paced silliness. Brad Anderson, as a director, is a bit of a mixed bag. The Machinist is fantastic. Some of his other stuff, however, is decidedly average. Session 9 springs to mind. Blood falls below even this already low standard. Let’s take a look. As always, Quick Fire Reviews are strictly under 1,000 words. Not including this opening and headers.
Blood follows the story of lousy mother Jess. Having split from her husband Patrick. We learn that Jess had a multi year long dependency on Oxycodone. Her parenting has been extremely subpar. The kids have been primarily cared for by their dad. Having, somehow, managed to gain custody of the children. Despite her years long drug problem. Jess is struggling to adapt. The kids prefer their dad and Jess is quick to anger. When the family dog, Pippin, goes missing. Jess’s son Owen is distraught. Pippin randomly returns one night, seemingly, changed. He viciously mauls Owen who is forced to spend time in intensive care. When he recovers, it quickly becomes apparent that he has a newfound lust for blood.
Apparently, terrible parenting is a bit of a thing in horror, lately. We have reviewed a number of movies with this premise in just the last week or so. The Witch in the Window, Come Play, You are Not My Mother and Baby Ruby all loosely follow this structure. Going even further back we also have French horror The Swarm. Bringing up The Swarm in regards to Blood feels very pertinent. Blood’s themes are extremely similar to the aforementioned body horror. The movies share troubled children. Absent fathers and mothers that will go to excessive lengths to provide. They also share somewhat similar metaphorical methods of storytelling. They act as something of a social commentary on the sacrifices parents make for children. The big difference is the fact that The Swarm was actually okay. This horror movie is not.
Blood starts off rather promising. The shaky and overly familiar premise feels extremely worn out. If I never saw another horror movie featuring mopey kids with parent troubles ever again. I would be a very happy person. Despite this, decent cinematography and Michelle Monaghan’s strong performance offers hope. A huge dollop of domestic drama eventually gives way to some degree of tension. Pippin has returned but seems different. In what plays out as something of a 30 second short version of Pet Sematary. We see a glimmer of potential for some strong scares. Unfortunately, it evaporates almost instantly.
It quickly becomes evident that Blood has very little to offer. Limited scares, no tension and little to no atmosphere are just some of the issues. Blood goes to ridiculous lengths to build on its shaky premise. Owen needs blood to survive. When Owen doesn’t get blood, he becomes lethargic before suffering seizures. Luckily, his mum is a nurse and has access to it. What follows is an incredibly predictable series of events that you will see coming from a mile off. Characters introduced earlier in the movie for, seemingly, little reason. Suddenly have a purpose. Jess is forced to go to increasingly darker lengths to satiate her son’s blood lust.
As the events of the movie play out. You will be watching and wondering what happened to any sense of logic? Hundreds of sensible solutions to this problem are staring Jess in the face. She simply chooses to take the most ridiculous one each and every time. It makes no sense. The ridiculous character decisions undermine the entire plot. All while detracting from any possibility of scares. Everything in Blood is designed to buoy up the weak, pseudo-vampiric, horror leanings.
On top of all of that. This movie drags its feet compulsively. The domestic drama element is already weak and overly familiar. As it continues to inject itself into every other scene. You will be wishing they shaved 25 minutes off of the film. It is very laborious and makes for a difficult watch. It doesn’t help that the domestic drama is awfully dull and cliched. It’s your usual “Dad ran off with the Nanny” bullshit. With a little sprinkling of opioid addition on top for flavour. Everyone in the movie is a bit of a prick and very difficult to like.
Not to pile on the issues but Blood also feels incredibly mean spirited. I get it, everything goes in horror. Still, Blood features a lot of animal death and other, similarly low brow, scenes of violence. It’s just a bit bottom of the barrel. I had a distinct feeling that the movie had run out of ideas. As if the filmmakers couldn’t think of a way to scare the viewer. So, instead, they chose to affect them in a different kind of way. Its cheap and fairly unnecessary.
Acting is decent in parts. As mentioned above, Michelle Monaghan’s performance is noteworthy. It weakens as the movie goes on. This is more down to the lacklustre writing than anything. Skeet Ulrich, as Patrick, is fine. June Wilde has a sympathetic performance as terminal cancer sufferer Helen. Skylar Jones is decent as Tyler showing a nice range of emotion. I hate to say it but the worst performance was Finlay Wojtak-Hissong as Owen. He felt very flat and disconnected from the role. This was a bigger issue than it might seem due to him being a significant character.
Direction was…. okay. This movie is far too long. The near 110 minute length really threw off the pacing. There is far too much time spent with nothing happening. Tension is non-existent and the narrative isn’t strong enough to hold things together. Cinematography was really decent. Some of the drone shots are fantastic. Widescale landscape shots have a nice dreaminess to them. For the most part, it’s a great looking film.
Blood is a long, slow, and very boring horror movie that does little with its pseudo-vampire based plot. Full of domestic drama and fairly mean spirited at times. This is a movie that is light on scares and absent of any tension. Michelle Monaghan's strong performance can't save a story that is lacking in intrigue. Stupid characters and unbelievable decision making are just some of the issues here. Blood is fairly watchable if you want a laborious horror with a strong drama leaning. Otherwise, there are much better movies around.