“A Blood Story”
The story is told from the perspective of former model Madison Sheffield (Mindy Robinson), introducing her as recovering from the loss of her career and death of her husband, who, we quickly learn, was a serial killer and gave her the career ending scars. Madison quickly embraces the decadence that hosts, Frances (Camden Toy) and Anna (Melanie Robel), offer at the villa during her weekend retreat as she becomes seduced by the power of blood ritual and controlled violence. She meets the arrogant, unlikable Wade (Tim Hays) and becomes drawn to the quietly mysterious Carter (Mark Hanson).
Writer/director Joe Hollow offers the audience a solid, very sensual, horror-fantasy, with a splash of heist. Lush cinematography gives the audience a modern vision with a Gothic foundation, and is complimented by an evocative sound track. The make up and practical effects are understated but well executed and the small amount of CGI are subtle. Emphasis on controlled, restrained violence is evident in every aspect of the story.
Strong performances by Camden Toy and Mark Hanson along with the sultry Mindy Robinson and Melanie Robel carry the film. With a remarkable supporting cast, featuring Linnea Quigley, as Margaret Renke, Debra Lamb, as Elizabeth Bathory, and the late, great Robert Z’Dar, as Gerry the Jaw, even the smaller roles of Luc Bernier, as Istevan, Janine King, as Kira, and Joe Hollow, as Lucian Renke, are executed with an intensity that adds to the film’s genuine horror.
The story unfolds at a slow but steady pace and explores the face and embrace your inner demons ideal. Narration by Madison during flashback dreams, explaining her thoughts and motivations are, at times, a bit much. Instead of creating a stronger connection, I found that the more I understand of her, the less I like her. Although she is a self absorbed hedonist with questionable morals, she tries to explore what she considers her short comings and tries to grow. The heist sub-plot evolves in order to draw Madison and Carter back to the villa. It also serves to show that Madison has fully embraced her hedonism and greed. Overall, there is good character development of the primary characters, as well as some of the more tangential characters.
The plot does not build into a large exciting climax, which the audience would expect from a film so mired in blood and sexual tension. Instead, the audience gets a more subtle, less fulfilling conclusion. Not to be confused with a bad ending. The characters all stay true to their established basic nature, it was refreshing to see the male “love interest” resist the temptation that Madison offered, especially as she indulged in nearly everything that was offered and still wanted more.
What I really appreciate is that the film made me think about the why of the things I liked and didn’t like.
I gave this film 3 glasses of blood red wine.