Bloodline (2018) – movie review

Bloodline poster. Image credit: Courtesy of IMDb

Being very busy with film festivals at the moment (I’ve done TIFF and soon I’ll be attending Grimmfest, entirely dedicated to horror, and Milano Film Festival), lately I haven’t had the chance to ask for online screeners or to search for interesting horror movies to watch.

However, as soon as I heard a new Blumhouse horror flick starring Stifler from the American Pie franchise just released on VOD, I couldn’t wait to watch it: between all the great films I had the chance to watch at these film festivals, I really needed to experience some hilariously bad movie to switch my brain off! That’s what I was expecting going into Bloodline (yes, the title is uninspired garbage as well).

The story, here, is very simple: Evan (Stifler… ehm, Seann William Scott) is about to become a father, which stresses him out even in his daily job – school psychologist. Evan is a little more than stressed out: he starts feeling murderous tendencies and decides to become some sort of vigilante who tortures and kills those who wronged the students at his school.

A brief recap: I was expecting this movie to be total rubbish because the lead is an actor I don’t exactly admire, the production company is notorious for making uninspired crowd-pleasers, title and poster suck, the premise sounds a bit silly. Then, something happened: I watched Bloodline and found it to be quite good! Bloodline is a film I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end, one that I will strongly recommend any horror fans who can stomach some gore to watch.

Continue reading and check my final grade below… 

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My review is also available on IMDb – Bloodline (2018)

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Bloodline started to win me over with the opening scene, which showcases a great score (that stays consistent throughout the film), very graphic content (with full-on nudity and squeamish gore) and some very creative cinematography.

I always criticise Blumhouse because their films, including some of the good ones, are shot in the same, boring and dull way. However, first-time feature filmmaker Henry Jacobson was free to be creative here, which results in the movie being visually engaging throughout. The colour palette, mainly consisting of vibrant blues and reds, provides a sense of dread while also reflecting the characters’ state of mind in specific scenes. The camera work is particularly impressive, as the actors are constantly filmed through medium or full shots, techniques that allow them to act with their entire body and also make the scene feel realistic.

The way Bloodline presents interactions bring me to the other big surprise in the movie: Seann William Scott sneaks in the first solid performance in his career and, at points, I could only see Evan on-screen, as though the actor fully transformed himself into the character he was playing. Sure, Scott’s performance was backed up by the expert use of camera and sound design, but he still managed to be one of the best parts of this film.

Despite minimum character development, as an audience member you truly empathise with Evan in a way that not many horror flicks are able to convey. Yet, the performances by Mariela Garriga (as Evan’s wife), Dale Dickey (his mom) and detective Overstreet (Kevin Carroll) truly complement Evan’s character in a profound manner.

As I said before, Bloodline is a very graphic film (it’s rated R in the States, 18 in Europe!) that benefits from fantastic practical effects. Here, the gore isn’t displayed for fun: every violent sequence feels very unflinching, and some of them are really disturbing. This is especially positive because the graphic content both implements Evan’s character and replaces those annoying, manipulative jump-scares that are so common now.

Despite being mostly a positive surprise, Bloodline isn’t a flawless horror movie. The main gripe with it revolves around the dialogue: it’s quite embarrassing at times and it seems written using those Google tools that finish the sentence for you. The dialogue is just lazy, formulaic and unrealistic, which makes the performances even more effective, since the actors were able to deliver emotions and believability despite the stupidity of what they were saying.

Speaking of the script, Bloodline features a few twists and turns that don’t make any sense, as they would require an insane level of suspension of disbelief. Most importantly, these reveals distract the viewer from the main focus of the film, which works perfectly as the character study of a disturbed, paranoid and troubled individual.

Similarly, the investigation of the murders is pointless in the film, as it takes the attention away from the core of Bloodline.

That said, Bloodline works very well as serial killer/character study type of film: it’s violent, uncompromising, engaging, tense and entertaining for the entire runtime. It’s the beauty of film: Seann William Scott can be a good lead when directed well and Blumhouse can make a visually engaging movie that doesn’t rely on cheap scares. I would strongly recommend Bloodline to most of you, as long as you don’t expect a deeper meaning to the film and you’re not easily put off by intensely graphic sequences.

Bloodline                               7/10

Bonus reviews – Recently, I watched a couple of horror flicks besides Bloodline. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to review them properly, so here are some brief impressions on them:

Low Tide (2019) – Neat little thriller that isn’t afraid to show kids doing drugs. It feels very honest in its approach, although the twist(s) make it seem a bit gimmicky – 6/10

Blood 13 (2019) – Crime/horror movie from China that’s extremely formulaic, but well-rounded characters and uncompromising gore make it very watchable – 5/10

Candy Corn (2019) – I fell asleep about halfway through this cheap slasher flick. I was very tired though, so I can’t fully blame the movie. I can’t rate it either, but I wouldn’t recommend it

Depraved (2019) – Larry Fassenden and IFC Midnight tackle the retelling of the classic Frankenstein story. It’s a good movie, filled with interesting themes, but it also suffers from a few presentation issues and plot holes – 6/10

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