Film reviews

Blood in the Snow Film Festival 2020 – Highlights Reel

Bloodthirsty

Directed by Amelie Moses, written by Wendy Hill-Tout and musician Lowell, Bloodthirsty tells the story of Grey (Lauren Beatty), a singer trying to work on her second album after her first was a massive success. Looking for inspiration and help, she decides to go, along with girlfriend Charlie (Katharine King So) to stay with the reclusive and “eccentric” producer Vaughn (Greg Bryk) while they work together. (The movie also features Michael Ironside in a small role as Grey’s therapist(?), and whilst it’s lovely to see the veteran actor, his screen time amounts to a total of about five minutes.)

Trying to work while plagued by nightmares and hallucinations of turning into some sort of bloodthirsty animal (we see what you did there, movie), Grey soon finds herself tapping into a whole new side of herself as she works with Vaughn, her songs growing darker and more emotional while the visions grow all the more vivid and there’s also this weird new craving for blood…

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This was a fun one. A slow burn psychological horror, reminiscent of films like The Shining with its use of tight confines and isolated characters. Toss in a heaping spoonful of blood, hallucinations and occasional random violence, and you’ve got a recipe for a great time. For the viewing audience that is, not so much for the characters. While the ultimate reveal is perhaps not the most shocking twist ever committed to screen, it’s well executed for the most part. The only real exception is in one scene which again has a hint of the “I definitely have breast cancer” scene from The Room in terms of the character’s response to a sudden revelation.

Greg Bryk is great, as is Lauren Beatty, and frankly everyone in this film turns in a top notch performance. Tiny nitpick aside, this is a great movie. I enjoyed every second of it, and if you get the chance to watch it you really should check it out.


Come True

Come True, the second film from writer/director Anthony Scott Burns, is an impressive and ambitious piece of storytelling. It tells the story of Sarah (Julia Sarah Stone), a girl plagued by vivid and disturbing dreams. She’s sleeping rough, avoiding her mother for reasons that are never gone into, and she’s struggling at school.

No amount of coffee seems to be enough to keep her awake, so when the opportunity to take part in a sleep study crops up she jumps at it. At the very least it means she’s guaranteed a safe, warm bed every night that will hopefully help her stay awake at school! But this is a horror film, so inevitably things don’t go as planned, and soon Sarah’s dreams are taking on a far darker and more menacing meaning.

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Summing up this film in one word? Creepy. Deeply, deeply creepy. This film is disturbing on a deeply visceral level, which is impressive considering there’s hardly any violence or blood at any point. This is a film that gets inside your head and tickles that lizard part of your brain, the one that KNOWS there’s something lurking out there in the dark. Waiting. At one point I had to pause the film and step away till my skin stopped crawling.  It was becoming too oppressive, too claustrophobic. It’s very reminiscent of horror greats such as Clive Barker in the way it’s presented, especially in the dream sequences, backed by an electronic soundtrack that would make John Carpenter proud. The lighting is stark and minimal, scenes drenched in 80’s-era neon blues and whites, lending the film a timeless quality in terms of when its set.

My effusive praise for this film – and it IS an amazing film – has to be tempered with a word of caution when it comes to the ending. The film tries a last minute reveal that… is not entirely satisfying. At least I didn’t think so. It’s something that is a callback to hints and nods dropped in earlier scenes, but I was hoping for something different. My personal gripes aside, this is an ethereal, disturbing and beautiful little slice of horror that fully deserves to find an audience. It’s also, I think, a film which will benefit from multiple viewings to fully appreciate the story. If you get the chance to see it, make sure you do. Just don’t blame me if you have to sleep with the lights on afterward.


For the Sake of Vicious

Slightly odd title aside, good lord does this movie deliver in spades. It’s Halloween, and coming home from her shift at the hospital, Romina (Lora Burke) discovers that there’s a wounded man (Alan – Colin Paradine) in her kitchen, being held hostage by another man (Chris – Nick Smyth), who convinces Romina to help him get revenge on the injured man. He raped Chris’ daughter, you see, but the courts failed to convict him, so Chris has taken matters into his own hands. But did the man he’s taken hostage actually carry out the rape or is there more going on than meets the eye?

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What starts off as an interesting, if somewhat by-the-numbers hostage story takes a sharp right turn into buckets-of-blood-boulevard when Alan reaches out to an associate for help in the form of a number of masked men with pointy implements. The latter half of the movie descends into a home invasion bloodbath a la VFW, with pints of claret splattering the characters, the walls, the camera and everything in between. The violence is up close, personal, messy and satisfying.

The cast are all great to watch as their relationships shift and change through the story, giving it their all in the physical scenes as well, each fight a gloriously claustrophobic and intricately executed ballet of extreme violence. This is another of those films where to say too much would be to ruin the pleasure in seeing events unfold on screen. The plot certainly doesn’t go where you might expect, and it’s executed beautifully. This film was a genuine and pleasant surprise. Fans of Tarantino-esque violence or the aforementioned VFW will find plenty to enjoy here. A great little movie.

Bloodthirsty, Come True, and For the Sake of Vicious will be showing at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival, which runs from 28th October to 7th November. Catch up with our coverage here.

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