Saturday, June 25, 2022

The Taste of Blood – review

Director: Allen Kool

Release date: 2021

Contains spoilers

It is important, I think, for films to enunciate their story – not all films, some hinge on obscurity, or capturing a moment rather than narrative, but for the main it is a rule of thumb that’s rather important. This film doesn’t do that well – for instance we understand that the film centres on cannibals but only know that they are “cannibals in the 20th century, descendants from the an (sic) old Scottish family from the 16th century” via IMDb – the film doesn’t mention this.


It might seem an unimportant detail but it is part of the story and other more important details are also lost. I assume that this ties the antagonists to the Sawney Bean legend – but I don’t know for sure. I might be doing the filmmakers a disservice as I discovered that this would seem to be a sequel (to a film called the Sanctuary, which features the same antagonists) but that is not clear and, whilst I’ll search that film out, I hadn’t seen it when I watched this.

Erica Sherwood as Janet

So, after an opening where we see reverend Janet (Erica Sherwood) imposed against the countryside (with a suggestion she is dead and the character does meet her end in film), in which she talks about evil, we see a man trekking through the snow. He is shot and then we see a figure dragging his body on a sledge. The film cuts a chapel, specifically the stained-glass window and blood trickling on it, as opening credits roll.

Nate and Dan

Nate (Timothy Paul McCarthy) is asleep and the sleep is disturbed, memories invading it. As I watched first time I didn’t know, but I now suspect the dreams are from the Sanctuary. Nate is a drunk PI, living in a mobile home and long since estranged from his law enforcement job. His friend Dan (Daryl Marks) comes to see him, he has solid work for him but Nate has spent 20 years obsessing about the Whalens, Harley (Rick Amsbury) and Edna (Lawrene Denkers) – cannibals who he is sure are still out there.

Lawrene Denkers as Edna

Dan suggests that they would be over 100 and likely dead but Nate is convinced that eating flesh makes them younger – which is how they escaped last time – and they are still out there. So, this is our vampiric aspect, eating flesh to gain/maintain youth. When we meet the pair we see they are now very old looking – the aging makeup, whilst clearly makeup, was rather well done. As the film progresses, we discover that Edna believes the flesh isn’t working anymore.

Hope and her doppelgänger

We discover they are living in a large house/hotel (closed currently) in Canada with a young woman called Hope (Amelia Phillips). Hope talks often to what might be a projection of a second personality or a twin (I suspect the former but the film didn’t make that clear). The other one doesn’t like the fact that Hope has found religion and, as the film progresses, a boyfriend, Jacob (Darius Rathe). Meanwhile Nate gets a lead on the Whalens and goes after them.

cgi fire

The filmmakers did do quite a bit with a low budget but some of the cgi they used just looked a bit false – I get it was a large building on fire and the budget will dictate the methodology used, but there was some blood/wounding effects that looked poor. I wanted the narrative to be a bit more explicit (as I mentioned at the start), I didn’t overly develop much empathy with Hope (the entire romance seemed just a little bit trite), nor with Nate… There wasn’t much of a horror element drawn with the Whalens, indeed there were moments with victims that we see little and then it felt that they were forgotten about – making the entire horror/gore side seem dodged.

crumble to dust

There is a supernatural element to their longevity and on death their bodies crumble (though the cgi effect wasn’t great). There are moments with Hope that seem to show her as immaterial, which seemed odd, and we do see eyes turn red. There isn’t much other lore communicated. I can see the effort that went into this but there were elements that just didn’t work for me – elements where I think lack of experience caused the filmmakers to either miss or gloss over, which might have ramped the horror, the tension or developed the characters. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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