Movie Review: Alberto Sciamma's BLOOD TRAP

BLOOD TRAP - what a name for a film!  It sounds like something peeled straight off a 1970's drive-in screen.  It certainly conjures up images of fun, cheesy exploitation, and that's partially what it is.  In addition, it's a darkly comic heist film; there's a definite Tarantino influence in play here.  You could split the proceedings in half and end up with two different stories.  

We open on Costas Mandylor dragging his bloodied self down a darkly lit hallway.  Squint and you could mistake this for some sort of unofficial SAW sequel.  What we're actually seeing is the end of the film.  This flash-forward technique is always questionable, and runs the risk of giving too much away - here it doesn't really add or detract too much, but could have easily been forgone. 

Soon, we learn that Roman (Costas) - a prison overseer of some kind - and his colleague, are scheming to kidnap a rich man's daughter and hold her for ransom.  To do this, they plan to enlist a rogue's gallery of inmates.  We're introduced to all of them via montage, with the most notable of the bunch being Vinnie Jones, essentially playing the same character he always does.  The group sneaks in and bags the girl, but hits a snag when the mansion's windows and doors seal around them, trapping them inside the - gast - BLOOD TRAP!

As they try to find a way out, the mystery deepens and things get really weird.  There's a copious amoung of what-the-fuckage going on in this movie, and it's actually kind of admirable.  It's tough to discuss without giving too much away, but at the same time, don't want to imply that this is some sort of sacred, unspoilable must-see in any shape or form. 

The cast never really gels, and what could be a strong ensemble piece feels fragmentary. The performances aren't particularly strong, even though Costas and Gianni have a couple of decent scenes together.  VInnie Jones is only here as a glorified cameo, and the rest of the cast does the best they can with what they're given.  Most of the dialogue comes off as hackneyed, but there are some genuine zingers. 

The pitch black humor is appreciated as a contrast to the nasty tone.  A real attempt has been made at some moody cinematography and lighting, and the film looks as good as its digialness allows, despite some overbearing orange color grading.  The action primarily takes place inside the mansion, and it makes an interesting setting.  It's suitably filthy, rusted and decayed. There's a real old world feel, and the entire piece has an undeniably Euro-aesthetic that adds to the atmosphere. 

The real problem is in the payoff.  There's a lot of violence, but there's no gore.  Most of the nastiness happens offscreen, and it feels like a copout.  The other problem is in the characters. There's no one for the audience to root for.  Everyone is so unlikeable, or simply undeveloped and it's tough to latch onto anyone specific and get on board with the craziness. 

Once the mystery begins to unveil itself, it's truly bizarre and the film leaves far more questions in the unanswered box.  As a package, BLOOD TRAP doesn't quite work, but it's admirable for striving to be different.  I always say I'd take a flawed original over a competent remake, and this is a flawed original with uniqueness as its greatest virtue.  If only the pieces fit together a little more neatly. 

NonSequiture