Do you remember the subtlety of certain novels and films about the addiction to blood of the night creatures and its metaphors? Now, forget about it, because Family Blood will try to force down your throat the comparison between drugs and vampirism.
Despite the title of my review, Family Blood is not a horror-comedy. In fact, this is a horror-drama, produced by Blumhouse and distributed by Netflix, that centres on Ellie (Vinessa Shaw), a recovering drug addict who has just moved to a new city with her two teenage children. Ellie joins a support group, where she meets shady guy Christopher (James Ransone, Sinister 2), who helps the woman get past her addiction by providing her with a new one, for blood!
Family Blood has a few enjoyable aspects. To begin with, the movie really tries to be original and tackle vampirism in a fresh, unconventional way: we see Ellie going through the phases of transformation and how they affect her life and the life of her children.
Yet, albeit riddled with jump-scares (some of them fake), this movie creates a genuine tension during the first hour. This is backed up and strengthened by the very well-crafted technical features: very reminiscing of Let The Right One In (the remake, not the original) in terms of atmosphere and camera-work, Family Blood builds up its story through a sombre and dark tone.
In general, the production values are really good and little cookie-cutter (surprisingly so for a Blumhouse production). Despite the Uwe Boll-esque CGI blood utilised during the last 20 minutes of the film, which really looked fake and cheap, the violence in the movie is quite effective and it’s helped by the fact that many actions are only implied rather than shown.
Unfortunately, that’s about it. For starter, the acting is atrocious: I honestly wouldn’t know whether to blame the cast (Ransone and Shaw never convinced me as actors) or the directing, since it’s entirely plausible the director told them “just act and speak you’re under suppressants okay?” I mean, this kind of line delivery makes sense for Shaw, since her character is kind of supposed to look and sound like an annoying, boring woman. It’s inexplicable for all the others though.
Aside from the performances, Family Blood suffers enormously from pacing issues. By that I don’t mean the pace isn’t balanced, more so all the scenes (excluding the last 20 minutes) are equally boring: I know, what one finds boring might be extremely exciting for others – heck, some of my favourite movies are considered boring by most – but here the movie is overall uneventful, every sequence drags for too long. In all honestly, I dozed off a couple of times while I was watching this flick.
The aspect that bothered me the most, however, is the over-the-top and spoon-feeding social commentary (or agenda?) the movie is trying to push. Vampirism is shown as a metaphor for drug addiction, which is an old but interesting concept. The problem is that this concept is executed in an obvious and annoying way, which makes it impossible (at least for me) to be affected or involved by the idea.
Horror movies can be a very powerful tool to convey a strong and important social commentary and several great horror films were able to pull that off. In Family Blood that doesn’t happen, because the filmmakers were most likely too focused on making sure the message didn’t get lost for anybody. The result is a superficial social commentary that is neither original nor impactful.
This is the third Blumhouse flick I watched and reviewed so far this year: Family Blood surely isn’t as wrenched and laughable as Truth or Dare, but it’s also far from being as good and interesting as Stephanie. Check it out if you’re into vampire flicks, just don’t expect anything other than a (sometimes) creepy movie that would probably help you catch some sleep.
Family Blood 4.5/10
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My review is also available on IMDb – Family Blood