Thursday, August 06, 2020

Blood Widow – review

Director: Brendan Guy Murphy

Release date: 2019

Contains spoilers

At the heart of this movie, which shouldn’t be confused with the 2014 slasher of the same name, is a very interesting premise. It isn’t around the hokum of the vampires being an endangered species and why, rather it is this: what happens if a serial killer is turned into a vampire.

However great ideas do not necessarily a great film make – this one suffers in some key areas as we will see.

Valentine and Stokes
This starts strongly. We see serial killer Keller (Brendan Guy Murphy) stabbing a victim and then taking a photograph of her corpse. The film then shows a variety of stills of kills and they are well done with realistic blood and posing of corpses (and religious paraphernalia) nicely done. We then see Keller drop evidence and money with a janitor (Ian Whittaker, Strange Blood) who disposes of such things for him. Outside the police station, cops Valentine (James Craven) and Stokes (Dallas Thomas) are being grilled by the press and we see Valentine has a temper and no time for reporters.

We then see Keller in a bar. He makes eye contact with Lilith (Melissa Aguirre Fernandez) who leaves with a flicker of a smile in his direction. They meet outside and kiss, he is dropping a knife from his sleeve when she bites him. He awakens at home with blood at his neck, fang wounds, and confused. He goes to work but his mind is not on the meeting he is in, rather he fantasises about killing a female co-worker and all the others laugh – even her corpse laughs – but he laughs loudest – which he does in reality though no-one else is laughing.

We get a background flashback of him as an abused (physically, psychologically and potentially sexually) child (Caleb Malis) who is involved in killing his father (Michael Martinez), encouraged to do so by his mother (Sara Jackson) and later we hear it was taken as a murder/suicide but he actually killed both. Then we get a view of an acrobat (Monica Boccio). Now this is one of the things the film does wrong. Her silk dance is impressive but as it took longer than it will take for her to die shortly; it was too much (a scene in a nightclub is interminably long as an establishing shot later). He gets her in the car park but after stabbing he uses his teeth on her neck. He asks himself what is wrong with him but it is Lilith’s voice in his head that replies nothing.

the ancient vampire
So, she takes him and fully turns him but the question is why? The vampires, it appears, have a genetic marker that leads to a heme issue. The lore wasn’t greatly explained but it sounded like the only people who could turn had that marker. She has selected Keller for his marker (and an ancient vampire she works with confirms it and changes Keller’s appearance – shaves his head and beard) and this has allowed her to turn him. She then gets pregnant by him to continue the race (so they might be mutated humans, supernatural beings or a separate race – its not well worked through) and then wishes to get rid of him, so chains him up but he escapes.

the expert
This means he is now hunting women, using the powers of a vampire, hunting the vampires (for shits and giggles) and hunting the cops who are hunting him. The cops get a break as they find blood that reveals the heme issue and have knowledge of the murder/suicide and his strange (heme) condition as a kid. Valentine is having dreams that connects him to Keller (even before he was a vampire) and also dreams of Lilith and so becomes convinced that there’s a vampire involved. As a result he rings a professor who knows about such things.

This leads to a story of vampires in 1919 Mexico being dealt with by angry townsfolk – the staking is fairly well done as a sfx. Lilith was there, but not dragged out with the others and was rescued by the elder vampire who suggested she would one day be a “sovereign queen” of a “hive” of vampires. Clearly sunlight isn’t an issue and at one point the elder remembers being in control of vampire armies and ruling over humans.

fangs out
So, ponderous moments of establishing scenes (the club and the silk dancer) that needed cutting right back. Some pretty poor acting, if I’m going to be honest, not helped by poor dialogue and confused/deliberately obfuscated narrative. That said, Brendan Guy Murphy was clearly having a ball as Keller. There is a nice play with the idea of vampires and religious paraphernalia – with the iconography he displays with victims and the killer’s trophy room – but it was not explored in any meaningful way. The idea of a vampire being created from a psychotic human predator was neat but the film’s failings didn’t support the idea. 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

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