During the turning point of The Blood of Love (2015), the mysterious Mr. Ashling tells Kate—the widowed countless-times-over protagonist—that “It’s not uncommon to mistake quantity, for quality.” It seems almost as if director Jeff Meyers subtly attempts to nudge the audience away from underestimating his film simply because of its length, and simultaneously plants the perfect lede for any review. Clocking in at an efficient 19:29, The Blood of Love does indeed have plenty of quality about it. It could easily be dropped into any run of The Twilight Zone—or Black Mirror with a twinge of steampunk—right down to the end credit sequence reveal. The selective Tungsten lighting and subject material make it especially reminiscent of “Where the Dead Are,” one of the shorts from the 1994 telefilm, Twilight Zone: Rod Serling’s Lost Classics.Mali Elfman—daughter of composer Danny Elfman—plays Kate, the buxom redheaded protagonist hell bent on keeping her husband alive by any means necessary. This entails dressing up as a sultry seductress and hitting the club scene while Josh—her husband played by Chris Stack—unknowingly lies in wait. She brings home guys who believe this could be their lucky night, only to stun them and subsequently slit their throats in a graphic, vampiric bloodletting process redolent of Let the Right One In (2008) that sucks the life from one in order to preserve the life of another by way of Mr. Ashling’s contraption. As the success of the machine begins to dwindle, Kate seeks advice from the inventor (played by Norm Roth). The result of their meeting and her realization of what must be done guide the story to its appropriate end, bringing the title full circle. Jeff Meyers does an excellent job of conveying the tense and enigmatic ambiance to keep the audience intrigued and on edge. By keeping the camera askew early on in the film, Meyers disorients the audience in such a way that captivates attention, forcing one to focus. In particular, Meyers and his director of photography Phillip Briggs take an early horizontal kiss—with Josh lying prostrate and Kate on top—and tilt the camera 90 degrees so it seems they are kissing upright. This toys with the audience’s sense of the film’s world, as well as making people question the line between being alive and being dead. The basement dungeon where Kate does her dirty work, the club where she picks up her victims, and Ashling’s library lair are all minimalist shooting locations that seem intricate and elaborate in their simplicity because of the filmmakers’ attention to detail. David Gregory Byrne’s haunting score combines perfectly with the visual elements, and changes accordingly to a very Danny Elfman-esque tune when Kate approaches Ashling’s office, providing a type of mysticism and whimsy appropriate for an inventor of such a machine. While not perfect, The Blood of Love is an effective and entertaining yarn in the vein of classical Victorian horror. The strains that Kate and Josh’s relationship undergoes parallels those felt by many people who must care for a sick or dying loved one. Although taken to the extreme, it is in fact a tragic tale of true love. Without giving too much away, the film could make a curious Rorschach test for couples when comparing and discussing Kate’s behaviors, motivations, and the definition of true love. Ultimately, the cinematography, music, and story combine to make The Blood of Love a successful horror movie of good quality, despite any of its shortcomings.
About The Author
Carlos A. Molina was accidentally spawned just beyond the threshold of the accretion disk of the black hole Pantagruel, in the Cigar Galaxy, when the local deity Lostradamus snapped his fingers in a fleeting moment of ineffectual eureka. He loves horror and science fiction movies of all kinds, especially those composed of found footage.
A Night of Horror Film Festival: Terror Stalks Australian Wetlands in Supernatural Slasher Film The Marshes (2017)
December 3, 2017
April 15, 2017
Hey Weirdos! Joe Ziemba of the American Genre Film Archive Talks AGFA and Upcoming Fantastic Fest Screenings
September 20, 2018