Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book of Blood (2009)

Book of Blood is based on what is essentially the "wraparound" or framing story of Clive Barker's early collection of short stories, the Books of Blood. As such, this movie (which is a good hour and forty minutes long) plods along slowly and feels very much "padded out" for what would have worked better as an hour (or less) length episode of a horror anthology. On top of that, it relies too much on cheap scares, the CGI is obvious, and the characters are never believable as real people.

Example: after a paranormal episode leaves a young man with cuts all over his body, instead of leading to a discussion about the ethics of their little science experiment, it leads to a sexual encounter with the researcher that hired him (who, oddly, must be turned on by his fresh flesh wounds). It's not the perversity (nor the nudity, which is skewed here in favor of the male) that's at fault - this is a Clive Barker concept, after all - but the poor writing and lack of realistic motivations.

For, the concept itself is compelling and original. The "book of blood" in question is the skin of a man which the dead use to etch their stories - in blood. But the bulk of this movie manages to squander that concept in a fairly run-of-the-mill haunted house/paranormal investigation tale, that gets boring fast (and is nowhere near as effective as Paranormal Activity). This is why I think the movie would be improved by cutting the runtime down significantly, and giving more weight to the wraparound of this wraparound. And the underlying theme - of the dead wanting to tell their stories, and our imperative to listen to them - is much better suited to the introduction of a collection of horror stories than a standalone feature length film.

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