The “based on a true story” disclaimer before any horror film always sucks me in right in, and the one at the beginning of BLOOD CHILD was no different. Though I’m not ready to give this movie a high star rating, it has intrigued me to later research what the possible “true story” is, because it seems to be an interesting story to be told. BLOOD CHILD may not have hit the nail on the head from a critical standpoint, but I think it definitely brought a style of storytelling to the table that I crave from the horror industry.
Ashley (Alyx Melone), aka Ash, and her husband Bill (Biden Hall) suffer from a miscarriage while living overseas in Singapore. The visuals on this particular life altering scene are beautifully tragic and are one of the few times Melone seems to have any emotional reaction comparable to an actual human being. They, along with their Indonesian maid, Siti, move back home, but not before Ash and Siti have an appointment with an East Asian Occult practitioner who films their ritual on a smart phone, for some reason. He gives a warning to Ash; a rule, that if broken, will cause all hell to break loose, and Ash asks Siti what he says, and she, for some reason is too scared to warn her and instead lies and says, “He says….’Good Luck,’ ma’am.” In an effort to remain spoiler free, I will not include what this warning is, because it comes as a reveal during the last 30 minutes of this 1 hour and 33 minute feature, but there is literally no reason Siti shouldn’t have told Ash the one thing not to do according to the creepy, amateur filmmaker, witch doctor. Grieving, Ash and Bill move back to the states with Siti in tow, and of course Ash unknowingly breaks the one rule that she didn’t know was a rule and all hell undoubtedly breaks loose. The entire movie is filled with mysteries and questions that lead to the final answer at the end, which, felt like a huge cop-out.
Ok, I know I’m being extremely critical here, but the movie really is worth watching. The filmography is subdued, soft, and has a coolness throughout. The way this movie is shot is truly something we need more of for those horror lovers who are looking for something less action filled and more story driven. It was a story I wanted to be told; a story I hadn’t been told a million times before. The unfolding of the plot in a cerebral fashion is something fans crave more and more as seen with the popularized Escape Room craze taking hold. Let’s figure it out together, and take a journey with the characters as their lives fall apart.
Except that the conclusion to the story and the execution of it all just wasn’t quite flushed out. Maybe it came in the writing, or editing, or a little bit of both, but there was much lacking from, what was an otherwise interesting film. It’s a slow burn, which depending on your preferences, could be a pro or a con here. But the pacing seems too slow at times, not giving enough hints or answers to a plethora of questions asked throughout and without much escalation. The characters are forcefully rude and constantly annoyed with no apparent cause. Ash’s mother seems to be clairvoyant, maybe, I think…but why, when did this happen, how, what?! There were so many times I though “People don’t talk like that,” and, “People don’t act like that.” Both examples are perfectly summed up in one scene where Bill and Ash are in bed and hear a noise downstairs. Bill investigates and clearly sees a figure in the house, then steps on broken glass. He goes back upstairs and Ash, clearly never administering any kind of first aid, puts peroxide on a cotton ball and dabs the bloody cut a couple times before Bill, seconds later, tucks himself under the pristine, white bed linens and tells Ash he definitely knows something bad was happening downstairs. Yet, the couple decides to call it a night as they cuddle up to fall asleep with both tableside lamps still on!
Alyx Melone’s expression of human personality is awkward and clumsy, reminding me of the performance Natalie Portman is criticized for in her role as Padme during her dialogue scenes opposite Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Something is just…lacking. Though, her lack of emotion is redeemed with most of the rest of the cast, especially Siti (Cynthia Lee MacQuarrie) give a believable performance. But if I have to hear her say “ma’am” one more time, I might just have to find my own witch doctor to perform some ritual to never allow anyone to ever say that word the way she pronounces it ever again!
Nods to classic horror films are sprinkled through the feature; notably, Room 237 from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, the red ball from The Changeling (1980), and the ghostly “Get out,” from the Amityville Horror (1979). It is obvious that makers of BLOOD CHILD are true horror fans, it is simply a shame that the movie doesn’t go far enough in essential storytelling elements, realistic actions, and a satisfying and neat twist-ending.
Overall, I think the movie is worth watching, and Jennifer Phillips as a director is someone worth looking out for in future films, if she can learn from her mistakes and take her vision with better direction considered for the audience. The foundation in story selection is there and her ability to create eye pleasing scenes is notable.