Sunday, September 23, 2007

Blood – review

Director: Charly Cantor

Release Date: 2000

Contains spoilers

From what I’ve been able to discover this was originally released in a much longer form and was felt, by many, to be too long and ponderous. Given that, it was edited down to its current 90 minute format. If that is true then the filmmakers edited down to a very nice character driven British drama that does something so new with the genre that it actually puts it on the cusp of vampirism, but I felt was genre enough to review rather than ‘Vamp or Not?’

The film begins with a girl, we later discover she is called Lix (Lee Blakemore), strapped to a chair and muzzled. A needle is pushed into her arm and blood drained from her. This plays with our expectations. We expect that a vampire would drain its victim and yet the victim here is muzzled. A close up of a stray hand passing dangerously close to the muzzled mouth indicates danger.

We cut to the drainers, Don (Paul Herzberg) and Janie (Amelda Brown), with a third man named Guy (Michael McKell). They seem on edge, sweating and they are waiting for someone. When he finally arrives they pass him a bottle of blood and he tests it, declaring it good and paying them for the bottle.

Two men, Carl (Adrian Rawlins) and Doug (Phil Cornwell), pull up in a car. Doug picks up a knife. They break into the house cellar and try to free Lix but she says she is hungry and cannot leave. They have a brief run-in with Don and it is clear the men know each other. When they get Lix to the car she devours a blood pack.

Lix is taken to Carl’s home, to live with his family and to be given a normal life. As the film progresses we discover what Lix is. Carl was a research scientist on Project Elixir., The aim of the project was to genetically manipulate a human – Lix, it emerges, was actually grown artificially - so that their blood was a curative for all our natural ills. Instead the blood became a highly addictive narcotic.

The reason that this falls into the vampire genre is that when Lix losses blood, by draining or by accident, she feels a hunger. Indeed she states at one point that “It’s only when I’m hungry that I can see clearly”, and so she craves human blood as much as an addict craves her blood. To assuage her hunger she must consume nine times the blood she lost – though why this is the case and why it is consumption and not transfusion is never answered.

The film is a study in addiction first and foremost. It quickly becomes clear that Lix and Carl become attracted to each other. Perhaps part of this is guilt as Carl gave Lix to three lab technicians to save her from termination when the project closed 15 years earlier and those were, of course, the people that locked her in a cellar for most of her life. After she cuts her finger he tries her blood and the film follows how this effects his life, his work and his family in much the way it would if the drug had been more conventional. Of course this is a drug that can physically say, “I love you.”

His addiction grows and the withdrawal is shown to be painful. As such, her drastic need for replacement blood leads to a raid for blood packs, highway robbery in this case, and very well done compared to similar scenes in other films that are often played for laughs. Of course it leads to much more drastic measures later.

The soundtrack to this was excellent and the direction worked nicely. This is not a happy film and, in many respects, not a horror film. It is a drugs drama put into a horror setting but the true horror comes from the breakdown of Carl’s life rather than anything they do – their actions are only a symptom. The acting is excellent, which is what makes this film as all the actors make their characters believable, and I was left with the feeling that I had stumbled over a real hidden gem.

Not a film to leave you with warm, fuzzy feelings but a great film none-the-less. 6.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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