Are horror filmmakers responsible for real world violence? This is an important question – one that was perhaps asked more often back in the days of stricter censorship. Just as youth delinquency was linked to heavy metal music, or hysteria surrounding the hilarious “Satanic Panic” of the late 80’s, community leaders have always cast blaming eyes upon easy scapegoats to distract from their own incompetency. One need only look to England’s “video nasty” epidemic, where horror directors were vilified for their influence over fragile minds. Even Sam Raimi was prosecuted for his involvement in Evil Dead, which these days seems outrageous.
Outrageous, not unlike the violence found in films made by Canadian directors/actors/editors Rob Grant and Mike Kovac. They have a handful of shoestring horror productions under their belt, and from the ridiculously violent clips of their past work that we see in their new documentary, FAKE BLOOD, it’s hard to believe anyone would be compelled reenact them.
But according to Grant and Kovac, someone actually did.
Grant and Kovac’s previous effort – Mon Ami – is about a couple of criminals who kidnap a girl and accidentally kill her, forcing them to dismember and dispose of the body. After making the rounds at film festivals, the pair received a disturbing fan video focused on the methods of murder depicted in Mon Ami. Profoundly affected by discovering their potential influence on violent minds, Grant and Kovac set out to document an investigation into movie violence.
I went into FAKE BLOOD expecting an enlightening look at the topic, but what I got was unexpected. Things start innocently enough, but before long, something seemed fishy. I fully expected the rug to be pulled out, and that FAKE BLOOD would become a found footage film where the Grant and Kovac are lured into the den of a killer and have to fight for their lives. Turns out I wasn’t too far off.
It’s hard to talk about the film without blowing its cover, but this is NOT a legitimate documentary. While Grant and Kovac go to great lengths to disguise its true nature, the jig is launched high into the air when we start spending long periods of time with “John”, a man who once advised on a gangster film and knows a little too much about real dead bodies.
Grant and Kovac – who spend the majority of time in front of the camera – have their acting abilities stretched a little too far as they try to convince us that they’re in the presence of a truly terrifying individual. They organize an interview with “John” via phone and meet up with him in a parking lot. The whole scene is so unnatural that it ruins any good will the film had generated up until that point. Grant and Kovac are taking the audience for a ride, but not in a good way.
This switcheroo would have been fine had they gone full found footage style with “John” hunting them down in bloody and horrific fashion. Unfortunately, the remaining runtime rests on lots of talking and unconvincing confrontations between Grant and Kovac as they hide out in a hotel to escape danger.
The end result is a surface scraping of the topic they promised to tackle at the outset. These two filmmakers are likeable personalities, but once it becomes clear they’re more interested in pulling a fast one on the audience than actually having something valuable to say, it’s hard to stay engaged. I guess the clue was in the title.