Monday, April 22, 2013

Blood Reunion – review

Director: Jim DeVault

Release date: 2012

Contains spoilers

This was nearly a “semi review”. I had hired the film from YouTube to watch and the last five or so minutes of the film just wasn’t there. I left a comment and the next day the film had been restored to its entirety allowing me to watch the last five minutes. My plan, prior to that, had been to do an article critiquing the film but holding back from a final score due to the lack of conclusion. The experience is, as I will explain later, going to affect the score (or at least illustrate a reasoning for the score).

The film opens with a quote from Montague Summers’ The Vampire in Europe, “The most characteristic feature of the vampire is its horrid thirst for blood. By blood it sustains and nourishes its own vitality, it prolongs its existence of life in death and death in life. Blood it seeks and blood it must have.” It is nice to see Monty still being cited, I have a soft spot for the eccentric clergyman and his writings.

For the blood of Winona
The film proper opens with a woman, Winona Lovett (Paula Marcenaro Solinger), who checks on her daughter Janeth (played as a child by Gracie Whitton) before leaving the house. She walks to meet a man as Janeth gets out of bed and tries to find her mom, to no avail. The man is a vampire and he bites Winona – it looks like she is a willing victim but why this is the case we never discover – in the morning Janeth finds her mom dead in bed and screams.

bars on a grave
Through the credits we see a set of iron bars being made and then the film starts proper, fifteen years on (actually there is a scripting error where, for one line, it becomes 18 years but the consistent figure is 15). Janeth (April Hartman) has grown up with her Aunt and Uncle in another State and has been haunted by the memory of finding her murdered mother. She has decided to return to her home town and face her demons but the town has expanded. She stops off at a store and meets Wilford Trent (Chris Macone) when she asks for directions. He stays pretty darned stum about the past as he talks to her not revealing that he immediately knows her name (despite, we discover, being one of the two people who saved the town from vampires 15 years before).

April Hartman as Janeth
Janeth gets to the cemetery and gives the custodian, Victor (Carl Bailey), some grief over the fact that the marker is gone, the grave is out of the main plot and overgrown and there are iron bars over the grave. He can’t say why and is ordered to tidy the grave up. Janeth goes for a beer and meets Mike Rivers (J.B. Brady), son of the local priest (Richard Houghton) and all round good guy who offers her his sister’s apartment – as she (Gail Brewer) is out of town… Yeah, I know, strangers meet and offer use of apartment, and use is accepted… plot contrivance time. Meanwhile, as night falls, Victor falls prey to a newly up and around Winona.

Tim Newkirk as Det. Rance Barry
The next morning the cops find Victor’s body and this is spotted by Father Rivers who recognises the wounds and sees that the bars have been removed. Local cop Det Rance Barry (Tim Newkirk) is unimpressed with the priest’s conclusion. Fifteen years before Father Rivers had preached about vampires coming to town and he and Wilford Trent (who was the coroner at the time) were barely kept out of jail by Rance after some post-mortem beheading and stakeage in town. He doesn’t believe in vampires. Father Rivers knows, however, that they will multiply quickly but he doesn’t know that Winona has a particular grudge against him, Wilfred and their families.

blood on mouth
So the stage is set but the script left a little to be desired. Mother daughter interaction between Janeth and Winona is restricted to the very end of the film (whilst you would have thought something about that would have been the central plank of the film). We have errors in chronology, not just the 15/18 years but after a couple of nights have passed Janeth saying she met Wilford that day (rather than when she got into town). The delivery of the script was amateurish as well, worst offender being Tim Newkirk who seemed to be wanting to out-growl Karl Urban’s Dredd but just sounding clichéd and silly as a result – a shame as he does become a central character.

burnt by a cross
We get standard undead in this film; garlic and crosses ward off vampires – crosses burning the flesh if touched, sunlight burns them, a stake through the heart and beheading to kill them and a bite turns. There bars on the grave aspect was unusual though, honestly, I failed to see how that managed to keep her in. There was also an aspect that could have been explored around Father Rivers. After being threatened with being turned he states that it will damn his soul and it made me wish they had explored this. Surely, if one is forced to become a vampire then one isn’t damned (at whatever stage the soul is finally freed). This is a too rarely explored conundrum (Twins of Evil did create a very sound set of rules specifically about the effect of a bite and whether a righteous person would turn), unfortunately it isn’t explored here but the film did raise the conundrum in my head whilst I watched.

In the sun
Effects are used sparingly and, given the budget, that is for the best. I said that the missing end of the film had affected the score and I shall now explain. This is a low budget film, the script needed work on and the acting wasn’t brilliant as I have mentioned. However I was really peeved when I couldn’t see the end of the film. There was no philosophical, “Oh well, it was rubbish any way,” as I wanted to know how it ended. Despite it all I gave a damn about the characters and wanted to see if they would prevail or not. Kudos to the filmmakers for doing that. As such the film gets 4 out of 10. It is below average, but it is also an indie film that makes you, despite itself, give a cuss. A sequel, I understand, is in production.

The imdb page is here.


miss x said...

Thanks for giving a damn about us, the characters, and thanks for taking the time to review the film! Much appreciated.
Paula Marcenaro Solinger

Taliesin_ttlg said...

No problem Paula