Strange Blood Movie Review
Written by Giuseppe Infante
Released by XLrator Media
Written and directed by Chad Michael Ward
2015, 84 minutes, Not Rated
Released on VOD on April 28th, 2015 | DVD released on June 9th, 2015
Robert Brettenaugh as Henry
Alexandra Bard as Gemma
James Adam Lim as Detective Song
Scott Harders as Private Investigator
Rosie Zwaduk as Waitress
Annette Lamarr as Goth Girl
There is a difference between respecting a movie and taking pleasure in a movie. Strange Blood is a movie I respect. Director Chad Michael Ward takes a stab at the 'vampire via scientific reasoning' genre and falls flat on a stake. Sorry for the terrible pun. Seriously, the movie has my respect – the problem is I did not enjoy watching it.
Strange Blood is a cautionary 'don't fuck with human nature or you'll create a vampire race' tale. The story is about Henry (Robert Brettenaugh), a scientist trying to find the cure for everything by creating a universal vaccine, as told through his lab assistant, Gemma (Alexandra Bard). In the present she is being interrogated by Detective Song (James Adam Lim) about half a dozen brutal killings. Henry's accounts unfold as she chronicles the past events from the beginning of their relationship. Gemma is assisting Henry with a living incubator, which he can inject with viruses for decoding to produce a cure. While trying to give Ella, as he named the incubator, a virus injection, it stuck his hand with porcupine-like quills. From here he slowly acquires an unbearable thirst for human blood and he seeks to fulfill his craving, as Gemma tries to figure out why Henry is acting differently.
There are several reasons as to why I respect this movie. It has an extremely low budget. Making any film, especially on such a low budget, is an intense venture. The filmmakers succeed in actually making a film, something many fail at while attempting. It is not easy to get together the funding, cast and crew to produce a movie when there is minimal cash flow involved. This was made for the pure love of the horror genre. It sticks to being a horror movie, veering from becoming a Hollywood producer's own editing project. The movie stays true to what the creator intended, a rarity in the mainstream.
Though I respect Ward and his crew, there are several reasons as to why I did not enjoy the movie. Firstly, I fell asleep the first time I watched it. Maybe I was tired, but definitely didn't give incentive to stay awake. As for the characters of Henry and Gemma, they do not feel real. I don't believe in them. With the movie consisting mostly of scenes with Brettenaugh and Bard, and about four between Bard and Lim, none of the actors are strong enough to make terrible dialogue believable. There is constant cursing for no reason from Gemma, just to give her an edge, while Henry says to her, "[watch your] language," and other generic lines during the transformation scenes like, "…you don't know what it is like to have power," and "…my body is not mine, I am a prisoner." I recently watched Full Moon's Head of the Family, which was an asinine of a flick, yet it kept me vested. Strange Blood, not being an asinine flick, didn't interest me.
As for the set design and look of Strange Blood, I could not stop thinking about its cheesiness. The set looks like my elementary school's computer lab from when I was a kid in the late '80s/early '90s. The story's setting is post Y2K, evidenced from video chat scene. There had to be some other options, no? And even though you are making art on a low budget, use a better camera. This should not look like a late-night Skinamax movie, unless the filmmakers wanted it to. The use of lighting, especially the red lens and night vision during the vampire transformation scenes, doesn't make up for the ultra-fake vomiting and what seems to be a CGI scene from a 1995 episode of Stargate SG-1 (which I love, by the way!). The worst part of the movie is Ella the incubator. Ella looks like…how do I put it…a raw gyro skewer with wheezing gills and a leathery coat of dampness. And when Ella started making low slithery noises and Henry began to have conversations with it, I just lost all hope in the film. What a terrible scene. Ella could have been utilized more if done right – the whole movie could have.
The story and idea is impressive, but the translation to the screen is a failure. With a bigger budget, this could have serious potential. Strange Blood is a nice attempt, but not a fun ride.