Saturday, July 02, 2016

Aaron’s Blood – review

Director: Tommy Stovall

Release date: 2016

Contains spoilers

There are indie films and then there are indie films. I find myself ploughing through quite a few films where the photography looks really rather amateurish and, you know what, that’s ok. I am on the lookout for the positive within a film. A sublime performance, perhaps, or a great piece of story-telling or an interesting use of lore/tropes.

However, it is nice to watch an indie film where, just in the establishing shots, one recognises skilled photography. Aaron’s Blood was one such film. As the shots that told us we were in small town USA came upon the screen I settled down to watch the film, hoping to find more positives in place.

call from the school
As I say we are in small town America and, following the establishing shots, we settle on a school where there is a blood drive, Aaron (James Martinez) is taking blood. A girl sits in the chair, nervous, but Aaron has been doing this for ten years. As he is packing up for the day he gets a call from his son’s school. Tate (Trevor Stovall) has tripped a boy at school and faces a day’s suspension. In the following scenes we discover that Justin (Noah Heekin) has been bullying Tate, that Tate’s mother is dead and that he is a haemophiliac.

Acuka cola
This, of course, means that physical damage to Tate is especially dangerous and so, when Justin has his revenge, Tate ends up in ICU. He has a hairline fracture and some internal bleeding that the doctors have managed to stop. Aaron is, understandably, worried for his son and wanders into the hospital chapel where he meets Father Kane (David Castellvi), who prays with Aaron for Tate. In a nice throwaway we see that the vending machine sells Acula cola.

James Martinez as Aaron
Aaron wakes in a chair and Tate’s bed is empty. He runs into the corridor calling for his son, the nurse at the desk hasn’t heard of him and the room has been unoccupied. Worried by his frantic behaviour she calls security as he runs outside. He finds a missing person flyer, created for Tate, but then hears his son’s disembodied voice calling him. He awakens with Tate calling from the bed, worried about his dad who has been having a nightmare.

dealing with Justin
Tate has made a miraculous recovery and the Doctors send him home. He is ready to go to school, but not hungry. At school he is making shot after shot at basketball and when Justin aggressively throws a ball at him he catches it with ease. Later, when Justin and his friends come to the toilet to bully him, Tate picks Justin up by the neck (his eyes changing as he does so). The caretaker, Mike (Michael Peach), comes in and witnesses this. That night Tate tries to eat but throws the food back up almost immediately and the next day becomes severely sunburnt after a few minutes exposed – a trip to the doctors has the medical experts suggesting a reaction to the drugs he has been given, explaining his very low heart rate as a by-product of the sedatives he had also been given.

Trevor Stovall as Tate
We see a man, Earl (Michael Chieffo, Transylvania Twist), break into Aaron’s house. He and Mike are vampire hunters and Mike has recognised Tate for what he is. What led them to become hunters is never explored and, you know what, that doesn’t matter. However, when they break in that night to kill him, Aaron intervenes with a gun and Tate kills and feeds from Mike in front of his dad. Earl leaves saying that Tate will turn on him, that when the heart stops it is too late and suggesting that Aaron removes Mike’s head, just in case.

drawing blood
So that is our premise. Aaron contacts Earl and discovers that there is a rumour of a cure – though Earl is not sure whether it actually works. Aaron needs to discover how Tate became infected and the focus of the film, on Aaron rather than Tate, was nicely done. This is mainly down to an excellent performance by James Martinez who absolutely sells the character and story to the viewer. From feeding his son his own blood to trying to track down the source of infection, Aaron is a solid and believable character. Trevor Stovall was good as Tate, but it is the Aaron character that steals the show.

demonic visage
Lore wise, aside from the cure (which I’m not going to go into either the methodology or the effectiveness, you’ll have to watch the film), I’ve covered the main lore. There is no “what am i?” moment as such – Tate immediately asks whether he is a vampire. We get quite the demonic face change but that is in a dream sequence and we don’t know how true it is. We know that there is longevity and that, once his heart stops, Tate will not age any further. His haemophilia is cured – by dint of his fast healing, if nothing else – and his eyesight has improved.

I really enjoyed this. It was a simple story but well-constructed with a nice viewpoint. There’s a tad of gore but really it is character driven. This one comes recommended, 7.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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