The UHF of the film world.
Latest news

Christopher Webster [Celluloid 01.15.09] horror thriller

Year: 2008
Release date: Unknown
Directors: Adam Mason
Writers: Simon Boyes / Adam Mason
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: agentorange
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

I've never used the phrase "tour de force" in a review before. I never liked it. I always felt it was one of those phrases reviewers held in their pocket and threw out there whenever they couldn't really get to the bottom of why they thought a film or a performance was great. And yet now, after watching Blood River, I feel compelled to use that darn phrase to describe it. I even looked it up to make sure I was indeed using it correctly; "expression meaning an exceptional creative achievement." Well that is indeed Blood River. A film where the writing, acting, directing, and cinematography, all work together to create a *gulp* a tour de force in every sense of the phrase.

It's weird too because in an industry where a director is quickly ushered to the top of the filmmaking food chain after even a minor hit and made to make watered down mainstream crap (are you paying attention Pascal Laugier) Adam Mason stands out as an exception to the rule. His 2006 film Devil's Chair was well received and is now regarded as a step up from the majority of horror films coming out of Hollywood right now.

So what does Mason do with his newfound success? Does he helm a remake? A top dollar Hollywood production with "easy money" written all over it. Hell no! He goes out into the dessert with long time partner and writer Simon Boyes and films a passion project- a complex morality play and rumination on sin, violent retribution, and redemption.

Blood River might take the guise of a standard Texas Chainsaw Massacre style horror story but it delivers anything but. Clark and Summer are a newly married couple on a cross country road trip. They seem to be the perfect couple. Clark's got a great job and Summer's got a bun in the oven. The American Dream incarnate. However, things start to slip when their car breaks down on the side of the desert highway and they run into Joseph, a drifter (played absolutely brilliantly by Andrew Howard) who appears to be there to help, but has really been sent to the couple on a different errand by a much higher power.

See on one hand, Blood River is like all those other horror films, like Deliverance or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It's about people who wind up outside the rules of our civilized world and get faced with the prospects of being ill equipped to deal with how the natural world can chew you up and spit you out. On another hand though the harsh emptiness of the dessert takes on metaphoric heights where it represents the soul laid bare - a place where the Truth of things emerge with dire consequences.

Three actors carry the lion's share of the film and I honestly can't praise each of them enough. Each one turns in a truly stunningly and devastating performance. Tess Panzer who plays Summer manages to be both vulnerable and strong while husband, Ian Duncan, flip flops from being a dotting husband to a sleazy douche in the most subtle of shifts. But it's Andrew Howard, who turns in what might just be one of the most charismatic performances of last year as Joseph, who stands out the most. His character makes you uncomfortable yet intrigued. He's wise as well as fanatical and you're constantly second guessing who he is and what his intentions with the couple truly are.

The screenplay is also top notch. Because the film starts off like a standard horror film you don't get a taste for it right away, but once the film kicks it into high gear we're treated with some of the best dialog I've heard in a long time. It's grand and poetic in all the right places. There is a lot of religious stuff to wade through at times but it's often what's being said between the lines - stuff about our world, how we live, and what we honor- that's the real gold.

Make no mistake, Blood River is a horror film. It's intense, violent, and thoroughly thrilling. It's just that it's a horror film that's got ten times the smarts as most you'll come across. So I guess what I'm saying is that if you're smart you'll like it and if you're a dumbass you won't. Heh, no that's not what I'm saying, but it definitely comes highly recommended and I can't wait to see what Mason has in store for us with his next film Luster.

You might also like


rcdude (13 years ago) Reply

Feels liek it more of a The Hills Has Eye kind of film, which basicaly what you already said, so yeah.


Anonymous (13 years ago) Reply

When the f**k will this be released?
By the look of the trailer I think this is going to be a much more 'serious' film than Hills Have Eyes, more along the lines of No Country for Old Men..


Anonymous (12 years ago) Reply

Die Anzahl der Darsteller entspricht dem geistigen Alter der Macher, so dumm dass es eine Beleidigung ist

Leave a comment