Thursday, July 23, 2020

This Blood Vessel Explodes in Terror: A Film Review

Director: Justin Dix

Writers: Justin Dix, Jordan Prosser.

Blood Vessel is a film from writer and director Justin Dix. He has worked on a few horror projects, including: Crawlspace (2012) and the upcoming Grave (2020). Falling into the Ghost Ship horror sub-genre, Dix creates some great visuals on a World War II vessel. All of the settings, costumes and props look realistic as they are taken from an actual, restored WWII vessel. But, there is a bit of a major tone and pacing shift - near the middle of the film, which might be jarring for some. Ending with a great finale, Blood Vessel will draw most horror enthusiasts into a decent vampire tale.

The plot begins with the destruction of a hospital ship. Allies, from around the world, team-up to survive in the North Atlantic. Jane (Alyssa Sutherland) acts as a nurse, while Jackson (Christopher Kirby)  is a former ship mechanic and sailor. Other characters like Faraday (John Lloyd Fillingham), an intelligence agent, and Australian soldier Sinclair (Nathan Philips)  enliven the film. But, there is also a vampire family aboard this ghost ship. And, once greed sets in with Bigelow (Mark Diaco), these two parties meet in the bowels of a German minesweeper.

All of the settings, costumes and other visuals look great. Filmed on an actual WWII Corvette, the quarters and uniforms all look authentic. And, every setting is filmed with lots of memorabilia. Even the gunnery shells look real, which amplifies the film's believability. The film's realism is consistently on point.

This viewer enjoyed the creatures, in the film. Taken from Nosferatu (1922) or similar influences, the vampires have overly developed ears and facial features, making them look horrific. Each vampire emerges from a coffin with yellowy eyes, with the patriarch looking particularly menacing. Even a child vampire looks deadly crawling through metal rafters and in dark red light. These villains add significant terror to the screen.

This viewer only had one complaint, the pacing. The slow pacing has been mentioned in other reviews and there is no need to beat a dead horse. Still, the first half of the film focuses on character development and the tone is quite sombre. However, this tone and pacing shift into more horrifying waters, once the monsters are released. At this point, the film amps up quite a bit, with the character development mostly forgotten. But, who are we kidding? Characters, in horror films, have a short expiry date.

One last film element is worth mentioning - the finale. The film closes out with a fiery climax. There is a decent amount of gore as the remaining characters fight off an army of vampire familiars; there is no lack of action here. And, the final blow-out looks quite good. No effects were underdone in the final few scenes.

Blood Vessel recently debuted on Digital platforms, on July 21st. Available throughout the U.S. and possibly other territories, this feature brings a lot to the screen, despite the over-used  haunted ship cliche. If you have seen Ghost Ship (2002) or Triangle (2009), you are going to know how some of this film develops. Still, everything in the visual sphere looks great, while the finale offers a great coup-de-grace, along with a memorable last line: "this bloody war." No one gets through life without being a bit bruised and battered, similar to the characters in Blood Vessel.

Overall: 7.25 out of 10.

A trailer for the film is available here: A Blood Vessel Trailer on 28DLA

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