As I entered a screening of Bad Blood at this year’s Knoxville Horror Film Festival, my expectations seemed easy to meet: Don’t take yourself too seriously, deliver on the promise of wacky and over-the-top practical FX, and make me smile from time to time. Now that it’s over, I’m happy to report that the film delivers on each and every one of those expectations. Even so, I left the theater feeling slightly deflated. While Bad Blood is a fun watch when amongst the perfect midnight movie crowd, it leaves a bit to be desired in terms of narrative and tonal commitment.
Writer/Director Tim Reis doesn’t hide the fact that budgetary constraints kept him from shooting the werewolf film that was originallyintended. But that didn’t stop him from using everything you know about classic werewolf flicks and turning it into a batshit-crazy amphibious nightmare. In hindsight, I find this choice to be a breath of fresh air–even if it wasn’t the original plan. Something about the creature design works remarkably well. It’s silly and slimy, and simply cool to look at. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I believe that’s important. From a creature FX standpoint, Bad Blood knocks it out of the park, but things start to get a bit murkier after that.
The performances turned in by our main cast are about what you’d expect from such a small scale project. The weird thing is: they actually get better as the movie progresses. I’m not sure if the film was shot in chronological order or if I simply acclimated as a viewer, but we definitely end in a far greater place than we begin. A special nod to Grayson Thorne Kilpatrick who’s fucking hilarious without even trying and Mary Malloy who evolves quite well and shines in the film’s first transformation sequence.
But all of these successes aren’t quite enough to completely satisfy. Reis has been attached to some amazing films in the past in various roles, but the end result in his directorial debut is inconsistent. Shots range from drop-dead-gorgeous to borderline amateur from one scene to the next. These little things, like the camera visibly shaking during a certain automobile scene, really pull the viewer out of what should have been an absolute blast from start to finish. The man has a knack for spotting talent in genre films and a passion for practical FX; these are things that are in short supply these days, and that makes Reis valuable. I’m confident that the tonal swings and inconsistencies behind the lens will improve with time.
For now, that leaves Bad Blood as a slightly less version of what it could have been. It’s still a fun watch with some amazing kills and FX, but a lack of commitment in its narrative make it feel slightly confused as an overall product. Worth a one time watch for the FX alone.
Bad Blood screened at the 2016 Knoxville Horror Film Festival.
Bad Blood [KHFF Review]