Blood Oath DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
An Albatross Films production
Directed by David Buchert
Written by David Meier Smith
2006, 75 minutes, Not rated
Natalie Hart as Lisa
Roger Horn as Charlie
Jamie Reynolds as Kevin
Katie Vaughan as Beverly
Patrick Holt as Amanda
with special appearances by Tiffany Shepis and Tina Krause
If we don't leave, we die. – Charlie
In every town, there's that creepy house in the woods — and the locals always tell stories of its intriguing and deadly past.
And every town has that group of kids who must investigate that creepy house, regardless of how many stories describe people who went before them and were never seen again.
Lisa, Charlie, Kevin and Beverly are those young, inquisitive teenagers in Blood Oath. They decide to find the mysterious house of local legend and see what the hubbub is all about. But this makeshift Scooby gang doesn't realize there is truth in the missing-person rumors.
It's going to be a housewarming they won't ever forget.
The first five minutes of this movie rocked. Two teenagers are in an SUV, ready to do some unmentionable things, when the lad gets a call from his ex-girlfriend — she is threatening to throw his collection of CDs away. When he gets out of the vehicle to take the call, he is quickly dispatched. I thought two things. The first was, "He deserved it." Any time Tiffany Shepis is ready to have sex with you, you don't take a call. Death is a small price to pay. The second was, "Oh, please, God. Don't let the CGI be this bad the rest of the movie."
His death was bad. Real bad. And I didn't want to sit through a CGI suckfest. But, shortly afterward, when Shepis ate dirt, my fears were alleviated a bit. Her kill was perfectly okay, so maybe the first death was not going to be the norm.
It wasn't. Fortunately, none of the other kills, and there were a few of them, had any of the hokiness, or CGI, of the first.
Blood Oath is your standard low-budget horror movie, as far as storyline. Kids go into the woods. Killer is in the woods. Kids die. But Oath succeeds on a couple of levels, levels first-time filmmakers usually disregard.
The first is character development. Most of the movie does not take place in the house, nor does it involve the characters running around trying to get away from the killer. Instead, the first 2/3 of the film has the core group getting to the house, while death takes place around them, unbeknown to them. Sure, there is an attempt to tie the minor character to the main ones, but they are cannon fodder all the same. Yet, that's okay. Because it gives the Scooby gang, on the hike to their death, much-needed character development, otherwise it would be just another slasher flick.
Unfortunately, the actors aren't strong enough for you to care about them too much. They aren't bad — I've most definitely seen worse — but they are lacking that little extra "oomph" to make you truly care about them. James Reynolds, who plays Kevin, is the most charismatic of the bunch, but the least capable actor. His laid-back attitude is too laid back, and in some parts, he comes across entirely too wooden. In one particular scene, Kevin's buddy Charlie jumps out of a closet to give him a scare. There is zero reaction from Reynolds. None. If he hadn't have informed Charlie that he scared him, with a punch to the stomach, I wouldn't have known. Yet, he doesn't drag the film down because his charisma means you can overlook the blasé attitude.
Roger Horn, the aforementioned Charlie, is standard low-budget acting fare. He does what is expected of him, and not much more. He overacts in some spots, but there are times he gets it done.
However, while Natalie Hart and Katie Vaughan are similar to their onscreen boyfriends, they really shine when necessary. Hart — who plays Kevin's girlfriend, Lisa — has the same wooden tendencies as Reynolds, but everything you thought about her throughout the movie goes out the window when she knocks her pivotal scene out of the park. She is running through the woods, bloodsoaked and terrified. And it's believable. So believable, that's the scene I keep re-running in my mind when I think of the movie. It is so well shot, and her acting so good, it is more than a stellar scene, it is the best scene in the movie.
Like Hart with Reynolds, Vaughan, as Beverly, has a tendency to overact like Horn. But, also like Hart, when it is her time to shine, she damn near blinds you. Her crucial scene, in which she is also terrified, is completely and utterly believable. She so became that scared character, I had to wonder what the hell she was doing the rest of the film. But she sold it to me when I needed to buy it, so I give her credit for that.
The best thing about Blood Oath, though, is the way the feel of it changes once the kids get to that old house in the woods. For the first ¾ of the movie, it's your standard low-budget slasher. Here they are going through the woods. Cut to a random naked girl getting sliced and diced. Here they are at the house. Hey, wait a minute, this film just got dirty. Suddenly, it feels like a grindhouse flick. Cool.
Blood Oath is like a cross between The Evil Dead and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It's got the house in the woods, where they are just screwed because they are so isolated, and it's got that feel of brutality that Massacre had. Once they break into that house, you just know — you just know — they are screwed big time. You can feel it because it's oozing from the film.
I can dig that.
Video, Audio & Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded, as this is a screener, but the final DVD promises the following special features: Director's commentary, deleted scenes (3 min.), storyboard gallery (10 min.), outtakes (8 min.), trailer (90 sec.), behind the scenes featurette (50 min.), special make-up effects featurette (10 min.).
In addition, it will be presented in 16x9 widescreen (1.85:1) and have the choice of two-channel stereo or 5.1 surround.
The thing I like about movies such as Blood Oath is the pestering kids usually get what they deserve. You break into a house on private property, you get what's coming to you. And everyone got what was coming to them here. Even the naked girls in the tents, because they didn't invite me camping. Well, everyone except for poor Tiffany Shepis. She was just trying to get some.
Check this one out.
(Review equipment includes a Mitsubishi WS-48613 48” HDTV, Sony DVP-CX875P DVD player and Onkyo HTS-770 Home Theater System and, in some towns, a Sony 27” WEGA TV and a Sony DVP-NS50P DVD player.)
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