Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hemo – review

Director: Bob Freville

Release date: 2010

Contains spoilers

The first thing I have to do is apologise for the quality of the screenshots accompanying this review. As it was a shoe-string budget film they were never going to be fantastic but I hired this film on YouTube and was taking screenshots with the print screen button and dropping them into paint (from DVD I take a lot of screenshots and sort through for good ones after the film) and worse, despite the YouTube version having to be paid for, the actual film was uploaded at a really low resolution… you’d have thought they’d have put a good resolution up to watch… but n’er mind, we are where we are.

Felicia and Calvin
This was pretty much a vampirism as a symbol for addiction flick and these vampires are not your normal undead. They walk in daylight, can be injured (in the first scene of the movie we see female vampire Felicia (Pamela Price) on crutches, a scene that ties in towards the end of the film, they eat food (the need for blood is a thirst not a hunger) and there is very little that is supernatural about them. However, they seem to be definitely addicted to blood and need it to survive – without it they become ill/withdraw.

blood bank stick up
After the mentioned opening scene we see them preparing to go out. Gloves are put on and masks. They are going to raid a blood bank (in honesty it looks very little like a blood bank but we must remember the budget). The guard (Kenneth Wooton) has been knocked on the head and tied up - Calvin (Kevin Petroff) gets upset when Felicia uses his name but she points out that the guard doesn’t speak English. She has used a popcorn ball to gag him – if he chokes it might dissolve – and apologises for the knock on the head – this shows their state of mind which is quite anti-harming humans.

might as well face it, you're addicted...
When they get home they hit the blood hard and become covered in it. One criticism of vampire films is often how wasteful vampires can be given how much they need the red stuff. In this case I felt it forgivable, they are addicted so one assumes the blood gives a euphoric high and in that euphoria the hyper-indulgence seems fitting. They do things like go out to the woods, frolic naked and pour blood over each other. We hear Felicia question the society of today as she reads about a baby being murdered.

ghost or inner dialogue?
However, things go wrong. The blood bank tightens security and they cannot get bagged blood. The film then follows them as they fall apart, becoming so desperate that they start to attack humans – and each other, because of their actions and behaviours. Felicia starts getting ‘advice’ off Thanatos (Duane Bazazian), a vampire or the ghost of one at least, however it seemed to me that he was more an externalisation of her addiction speaking to her and pushing her forward.

what were they?
The film became, in equal parts, quite unpleasant (deliberately so) but rather fractured when they started killing. One wondered just how they got away with the attacks (or even managed them). The camera often showed us the aftermath, though not always, and they didn’t seem to have enhanced strength or speed to help them with their attacks (hence Felicia ending up on crutches, which also shows they can be injured). The other aspect that was particularly poor was the fact that the film needed to offer more narrative but just plain refused to explain things to the viewer. For instance, what were they – the undead, humans addicted to blood, two people with a shared delusion, another species or something created? I guess the last option, as they go to the rubble of a building and state it is where they came from, but it was knocked down… however I am only assuming.

a victim
The filming was in turns gritty and pretty poor. Night shots were awful (this wasn’t helped by the poor resolution) and lighting was non-existent. What carried the film, however, was the performance by Pamela Price – I don’t know what it was but there was just something about her that kept your mind focused on the film and commanded the screen whilst she was on it. I’m afraid to say the other performances were in the low to middling range.

There are better vampire/addiction films out there and this is never going to set the world alight. Freville made the mistake of not putting enough explanatory narrative in the flick but I have seen worse, I really have. 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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