The Bloody Man - New Release Review
Director: Daniel Benedict
Starring: Tuesday Knight, Lisa Wilcox, David Daniel, Jeremy Carr, Olivia Sanders
Written by: Casi Clark, Daniel Benedict
Produced by: Casi Clark
Cinematography by: Daniel Benedict
Original Score by: Johnathan Fan Octo Evans
Sam is struggling with family, friends, school, and the most evil being he can imagine - The Bloody Man, who is unknowingly summoned and will stop at nothing to destroy everything Sam holds dear.
Is there anything worse than being a nerdy teenage kid surviving middle school when you know you don't really belong? Apparently not, especially when you don't get along with your brand new stepmom, who you think is just trying to replace your dead Mother.
'The Bloody Man' is set sometime in the late 80s and the film vehemently does everything in its power early on to let the viewers know that not only is it set during the 80s but that it's hugely inspired by 80s filmmaking. It opens up with a credit sequence filled with close ups of classic 80s action figures from much loved IPs like 'Masters of the Universe', 'Thundercats', 'Fraggle Rock' and the original 'Star Wars Trilogy' and then we get a nifty and fun little montage following our protagonist Sam (David Daniel) as he attempts to catch up with the school bus he's missed. It's a classic trope used in many films from the decade that bled into the 90s too that helps to set up our main character as a failure in this otherwise idyllic neighbourhood. It's accompanied by a nice synth score too which I guess is supposed to help evoke some 'Stranger Things' vibes. A promising intro.
Unfortunately it becomes less than promising going forward. Sam is a bullied schoolboy who apparently spends way too much time being obsessed by his comic books and is wasting his potential. After getting into a fight with the classroom bully, Sam is given the third degree from his stepmom Kim (played by Tuesday Knight) and his older brother Michael (Sam and Michael as brothers is clearly a nod to The Lost Boys) however his father is a little more understanding. Sam is still struggling in the aftermath of the death of his mother (played by Lisa Wilcox) and when his Dad must travel for work, Sam is unhappy to be left in the household with Kim. This is when the shit hits the fan.
Most of the first half of the film is spent trying to establish the family dynamic and where Sam fits in all of it. One of the major negatives is that the film spends far too long repeating the narrative of Sam being the "odd one out" who has a bad feeling about his stepmom. We really don't need all the repetitive dialogue which is clearly foreshadowing plot points that will turn up later on. On top of this there's flashbacks that show life just before the car accident that took his Mother's life and even older flashbacks that explain part of the lore of the Bloody Man. It isn't well executed.
Conceived by real life couple Daniel Benedict and Casi Clark and directed by the former, 'The Bloody Man' is clearly a love letter to a decade they both hold close to their hearts and while I appreciate the sentiment and applaud the efforts, the film perhaps tries to bite off more than it can chew. It's obviously working within a smallish budget and although it has managed to attract 'Elm Street' legends Lisa Wilcox and Tuesday Knight, the blatant issues in all departments become abundantly clear as the film progresses. The acting is actually pretty dreadful in places (not quite on Troll 2 levels but not a million miles off either) and the editing and framing of a lot of the shots is amateur looking. I want to repeat the I certainly appreciate all the hard work that has went into this project but it just didn't work well for me personally. Ironically for a film that tries to mirror 80s movies it is staggeringly long and maybe if Benedict was more stricter in the editing room it would've been substantially more enjoyable to watch.
The film does become considerably more fun when the revelation happens at approximately the 90 minute mark and there's a cool gory scene. There's even a few entertaining scares and an impressive comic book animated sequence which likely just escaped copyright claims. I found myself wanting to see more of that and I think rather than seeing tiresome flashbacks early one Benedict could've instead used these as a successful storytelling device. It was definitely one of the better aspects of the film. Carrying on with the 80s tropes, the team of Sam, Michael and their younger sister Amy "gear" up Frog Brothers style to fight the big bad (who is obviously doing a version of Pinhead from 'Hellraiser' here but without any of the grandeur or authority) in the finale. There's also another homage 'Evil Dead' style when Kim fights her evil self and then we get that "which one is the real Kim" scene afterwards straight outta 'Terminator 2: Judgement Day'.
If you go into the film with low expectations and with the idea that the team behind 'The Bloody Man' aren't taking themselves too seriously then you won't be disappointed.
- Gavin Logan
'The Bloody Man' is available on digital July 12th and physically from Wild Eye at a later date.