Friday, December 06, 2019

Real Blood: The True Beginning – review

Director: Phillip Penza

Release date: 2019*

Contains spoilers

*At the time of writing the review the IMDb page, unusually, did not carry a release date for the film. The 2019 date was taken from Amazon.

Sometimes you feel really sorry for a film and the filmmakers. More often than not that is when you can tell a film is a labour of love and it nearly has a spark (but fails). This is clearly a labour of love but it makes some fundamental mistakes in design, in production and in pacing.

Roberto Cordero Jr. as Dr Roberts
It starts with Dr Roberts (Roberto Cordero Jr.) being driven into town by his right-hand man Reggie (Phillip Penza) – they are off to see a realtor. Let us stop there for a second… When we see Roberts he looks ridiculously young. This is actually commented on in film and is probably down to the fact that the actor is young (younger than the age he gives in the film). If, when he arrived, he was a vampire then maybe that would have made a film-logic sense but he isn’t. It then knocks you out of the film a bit… but, lets continue.

Phillip Penza as Reggie
They get to the house for sale and it is Reggie who briefly meets the realtor and, without examining the house or even getting out the car, Roberts instructs Reggie to buy the place (at around a cool $4 million). Reggie cuts a deal with an inflated fee as long as she can have the sale completed by that evening. Though Roberts is a research doctor (who apparently has cured rabies) one wonders about how someone will be able to simply splurge millions of dollars sight, essentially, unseen. It is not his only spending that day.

meeting Candice
They then go to a fundraiser. He meets the mayor and the mayor’s soon to be divorced daughter Candice (Audrey Beth). In another splurge moment (having sent Reggie off) he offers the mayor the full target of the fundraiser – so long as he is anonymous. The mayor announces they can rebuild the firehouse (which had burned down) thanks to Roberts. There is applause but it is short lived as Roberts tells the mayor the money offer is withdrawn for not honouring his wishes. He leaves, but then phones Reggie and tells him to send a cashier’s check anyway.

the vampire
On the way home he gets a flat tyre and is met by four good ol’ boys, led by Nick (Mark Laursen), who were at the fundraiser and have followed him. Having taken Umbridge at his withdrawn generosity they smack him down with a tyre-iron, slice his chest open in a cross shape and throw him in a ditch. In said ditch he is swamped by bats (ironically, given he has come to town because he is a haematologist researching a particular breed of vampire bat native to the locale) and a vampire appears ordering him to rise and take revenge against the world – however the cross cut into his chest glows.

Add caption
He wakes up at home, Reggie tells him that he found him wandering the countryside naked and it has been two days. It takes Roberts time to piece the memories back together. He is, of course, now a vampire and is going to take revenge on the four. Cutting the story down a bit, he kills two but discovers that vampires inject blood when they bite and that turns the victim. The first he killed was killed through electrocution but Nick, Nick he bit. He then discovers that Nick has returned and turned a good number of other people.

hokey priest
So, there is a hokey religious aspect to this. Roberts is a Christian and his heart is still beating. He meets a priest who knows what he is and then vanishes into thin air. Another priest (a cameo for Eric Roberts (Lost Girl, But Deliver Us From Evil, Halloween Hell & Sicilian Vampire)) pitches up, stabs Reggie with a blade from a walking cane, heals him and tells Reggie to give his boss the cane – and promptly vanishes. Reggie, incidentally, suggests to Roberts that he made the cane! That he isn’t evil is one thing, but vanishing priests was a tad much.

hair starting to grow
The main influence of vampirism seems to be uncontrolled hair growth. Roberts short cut soon becomes a thick wig and, eventually, long hair. Nick sports an impressively long mullet wig after becoming a creature of the night… I say creature of the night but Roberts, certainly, is apparently able to walk in daylight, has a reflection and is fine with garlic. He is now incredibly fast (off screen), strong and can read minds through touch. We don’t know enough about him pre-turn to know if vampirism has made him horny but his attraction to, and feelings for, Candice doesn’t stop him getting it on with a nurse briefly despite being the all-round good guy. On the other hand, Nick develops all sorts of sexual sadistic kink (or perhaps those traits were already there).

The biggest issue with this, however, is not vanishing priests or bad wigs of the undead, the biggest issue is pacing. Sections drag along for no good reason and, when it stumbles and crawls to its finale, said climax is somewhat of a damp squib with one vampire accidentally cured, one bad vampire killed and the rest not dealt with – clearly for a series continuance but it isn’t a satisfying conclusion with those threads left dangling – it feels like it just grinds to a false stop. The acting isn’t particularly anything to write home about but the dialogue doesn’t help, being just on the wrong side of stagy.

It is a labour of love but it doesn’t get there. 2.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

No comments: