On March 13th, two promising-looking shows dropped on Netflix: the second season of Korean zombie show Kingdom and the first season of Norwegian horror anthology Bloodride. As I said in my review of Kingdom season 1, I won’t review the second season of the show: I think, however, it’s a great continuation and you should definitely watch it.
I was very curious about Bloodride, though, as the latest Netflix show from Norway I watched – Ragnarok – was super entertaining and very well-made. Bloodride is a Netflix anthology show comprised of six short episodes (ranging from 25 to 31 minutes long). The wrap-around story, which is nothing more than the introduction theme, revolves around a bus filled with dead passengers: it’s fair to assume they’re going to hell, as we see their respective deadly stories told in each episode.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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Bloodride – plot of the six episodes
As I said, Bloodride is comprised of six short movies, unrelated to one another. In the first episode (Ultimate Sacrifice), we follow a family who just moved to a remote Norwegian village, where all the neighbours seem to have an odd obsession with their pets: we slowly learn that there’s a Viking stone with magic powers in the woods and that sacrificing your beloved pets on said stone could bring a lot of fortune. The second episode (Three Sick Brothers) centres around a guy who’s just been released from a mental institution, when his two brothers pay him a visit and take him on a trip to their cabin in the woods: on the way, they pick up a hitchhiker and take her there, where things get out of hand quickly. The third episode (Bad Writer) is about a girl who takes a writing class, only to find herself and her perfect life victim of someone else’s twisted writing fantasies.
In the fourth episode (Lab Rats), we are introduced to the CEO of a pharmaceutical company who’s celebrating the invention of a new drug with his wife and some colleagues: when the prototype disappears, the CEO goes to extreme lengths to find out which one of the party guests stole it. The fifth episode (The Old School) revolves around a new teacher in an elementary school who finds out that, 30 or 40 years before, four kids disappeared into thin air: strange apparitions and a mysterious old man make her believe the spirits of those kids are trying to reach out to her. In the last episode (The Elephant in the Room), we join an office party where everyone is dressed up like an animal: through the investigation carried out by two new employees, we discover dark secrets about some of the other employees.
A consistent formula: build-up + plot twist
Aside from Lab Rats, each episode is structured in the same way: there’s a mystery that’s built up throughout the short runtime and then a plot twist that’s supposed to leave you in disbelief. My main issue with this entire horror anthology show is that every single twist in every single episode is the most obvious and predictable you can think of. No joke, I called out the twist for each episode (aside from one) within the first 10 minutes.
Obviously, this issue made the entire show less interesting and compelling, but it wouldn’t have been a big deal if there were other quality elements to latch on to. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as Bloodride features mostly bad acting, dull visuals, uninteresting storylines and cheap gory effects. On the other hand, the production values are decent and some of the makeup was quite well-done and effective, which helped in the episodes that were supposed to be more gruesome (such as Bad Writer and The Elephant in the Room).
Bloodride – the best and the worst episodes
Although Bloodride isn’t as much of a mixed-bag as most anthology movies and shows – because everything falls in the dull middle – there are two episodes that kind of stood out: one because it’s better than the others, the other one because it’s significantly worse than the others. I think the strongest episode is the first one, Ultimate Sacrifice. It’s very atmospheric and weird; it features cult-like aspects that feel quite unnerving; it benefits from an interesting lead characters. On top of that, if you’re an animal lover like me, this episode can get quite disturbing and sad. That said, Ultimate Sacrifice is ruined by silly character decision and super predictable ending.
By far, the worst episode in this subpar anthology show is Lab Rats, the fourth one. Aside from being as far from horror as possible, this episode solely relies on dialogue and acting: this could be have been very compelling, if only both acting and dialogue weren’t complete rubbish. I can’t think of any redeeming quality for Lab Rats, which I just found dull and cheaply made.
Bloodride has decent production values and, considering it’s a made-for-TV product, is quite watchable and fast-paced. Aside from that, none of the episodes stand out particularly, and the show as a whole feels like nothing more than a forgettable time-waster.
There are a few interesting and gory moments sprinkled here and there, which kept me from turning it off after the second episode. Aside from that, I wouldn’t really recommend Bloodride, unless you’re really into horror anthology and you’re okay with mindless, by-the-books entertainment.
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