Even though there have been countless vampire films and television shows, kids as vampires are still horrifying. Something about the combination of a bloodthirsty monster’s nature with the innocent look of childhood can make us shiver. Let the Right One In (and its TV version), its American remake Let Me In, The Girl With All The Gifts, and Interview With The Vampire are all great examples depicting the frightening nature of a cute young child who can quickly drain you dry. Blood, the most recent horror/thriller from Vertical, however, is disappointing.
After recently divorcing her ex-husband Patrick (Skeet Ulrich), Jess (Michelle Monaghan) has brought her kids back to the farmhouse where she grew up in an effort to start again. At first glance, it may seem as though her husband abandoned her for another woman and is a terrible person, but the couple actually drifted apart as a result of her painkiller addiction, which she acquired while working as a nurse at a nearby hospital. After getting sober and reestablishing herself, she was granted custody of their two kids Tyler (Skylar Morgan Jones) and young boy Owen (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong), and engaging in a frustrating battle with her ex-husband over continued custody and visitation rights.
While Jess and the children are easily adjusting to living on a farm, a horrible event occurs that completely changes their lives. Frequently, Tyler and Owen walk their dog and play with it in the neighborhood. But regrettably, they stumble onto a bizarrely constructed tree in the middle of a dried-up lake. At first, it seems insignificant, but eventually, the dog escapes, and when it is discovered, it is covered in blood and has strange flashing eyes. Young Owen is attacked by their once-sweet dog, who now acts possessed, almost fatally injuring him.
As Blood continues, Owen is discovered to have a mysterious sickness that is slowly killing him while he is trying to heal in the hospital (the same one Jess works at). When no one is looking, Owen sneaks and physically consumes the blood while having a plasma transfusion. Jess observes him drinking the blood but remains silent because he now feels better. She now realizes that something isn’t quite right since after all, who recovers from a terrible infection by drinking blood? But she doesn’t want Owen to die. So, at first, she uses her access to blood (she is a nurse after all) as a means of nourishing him and keeping him healthy. But that gravy train eventually dries up and she has to compromise her morals and integrity to keep Owen alive. Everything from feeding him her own blood, to slaughtering animals, to possibly even slaughtering people.
Blood tries to present itself as a cautious ethical dilemma, but it’s a little hard to develop sympathy for Jess in the process. In addition to selling her soul to keep Owen alive, she does it at the expense of her other child Tyler, and her ex-husband Patrick proves to be a more responsible parent for their kids, even though he’s left in the dark as to what’s happening to Owen. Another issue with Blood is that while it presents itself as a horror film as well as displaying the moral predicament Jess has, it’s not very scary, nor does the audience really get the chance to develop sympathy for Jess. In fact, many of Jess’ decisions are done rather quickly and it’s hard to think she had any moral quandary with carrying out her actions. The rushed and predictable third act is probably the only moment of the film that has actual tension, and it ends too quickly. Answers for the cause of the vampiric disease are proposed, but never followed up on and in fact, the ending had the opportunity to explore it but instead, decided a literal hollow ending. Let The Right One In and its American counterparts did a better job at displaying a father/love interest one having empathy for their vampiric loved one and having to go through desperate measures to keep them happy. The cast does, in fact, deliver good performances with what they were given, but it’s not enough to turn the tide for this film.
Blood is currently in select theaters and On Demand.