Dry Blood is an interesting, but ultimately flawed vision which, despite a great deal of potential largely fails to hit the appropriate emotional notes.
In a rural mountain town, an unstable drug addict must unravel a surreal murder mystery as he’s terrorized by malevolent ghosts, a deranged sheriff, and the frightening hallucinations from his withdrawal.
The central character Brian Barnes (Clint Carney) is, as outlined above, a recovering drug addict, meaning that he provides the perfect opportunity for the film to indulge in some unreliable narrator-driven moments, including hallucinations. Unfortunately, at some points, the extra effects employed for these sequences do somewhat overshadow what looks like some excellent production design on the ghosts.
The biggest problem with the film for me was the performances. Carney’s performance lacks the weight required for the increasingly dark content that the film presents. The interplay between Brian and Anna (Jaymie Valentine) is one-note which makes it exceptionally difficult to connect with the characters or believe in their relationship or the situation. However, a quick look at IMDB reveals that neither actor has a huge amount of experience, so perhaps giving them such difficult, emotional material when they have little experience is a tad unfair.
The narrative itself goes to some unexpected and rather brutal places. The increasingly gory effects are well handled and there are some really effective horrific moments. The direction it takes is far darker than first suggested and really is a fascinating turn. However, the issue of the performances again becomes a problem The intensity of what should be a completely disturbing scene is utterly undermined by Carney’s performance descending into largely incoherent screaming. His choices would be understandable if the film was trying to be a taboo-busting comedy, but that clearly isn’t the tone it is seeking and the moment feels all the more strange for it.
Dry Blood is a frustrating watch because there is a fascinating and disturbing film somewhere within it but it lacks the emotional weight in terms of performance and a consistent enough tone to make that story work.
Dry Blood is available from Dread Presents through Epic Pictures. Information on how and where to watch is available here.