Director: Edo Tagliavini
I wanted to like Edo Tagliavini’s Bloodline, I really did – the beginning is fun to watch and jumps right into the action, the actors perform well, the two leads are attractive – always a plus in my book, and the idea of a slasher/zombie movie intrigued me. Unfortunately there’s limited positives I can muster up for this frustrating entry to the Italian horror genre.
Francesca Faiella (Into the Gloom) stars as Sandra, a woman still wrestling with the childhood memories of seeing her sister brutally murdered by sadistic serial killer, “The Surgeon” (who looks like an odd hybrid between a cop in riot gear and a butcher or fisherman), who shoots his victims with some kind of immobilizing serum so he can take them back to his hideout and slowly remove their organs one by one.
When Sandra and her partner/potential love interest Marco (Marco Benevento, an accomplished sound technician and editor making his first feature-length appearance) accept a job to shoot porn at an Italian villa it’s with some trepidation as the woods surrounding the house are the same ones that Sandra’s family was attacked in years ago. Sandra and Marco’s hopes that she can find some closure hit a bit of a snag when the actors and crew end up falling victim to an apparent “Surgeon” copycat, except this time the serum the copycat’s using to take down his victims has the unfortunate side effect of turning them into zombies.
Bloodline’s touting itself as the first feature-length film to be shot entirely using Canon 7D cameras, but if I were Tagliavini I don’t know that I’d be so proud of that fact. There are several fundamental problems with the camerawork in this film that make it somewhat difficult to watch. Originally the screener copy I was given had an error, showing only every few frames of film which created jarring sequences that were hard on the eyes. However after viewing the film in its correct resolution that jumpiness wasn’t present, so I’ve revised this review to omit my critique of that effect, as it was completely unintentional.
What still remains as a sticking point for me is the absence of any sort of tripod or stabilizers for the cameras during the second half of the film, creating shaky shots that put The Blair Witch Project to shame. Tagliavini himself reached out to us and explained that this was a conscious decision on his part to better show Sandra’s structured world breaking down into chaos. While I get that more artistic moments necessitate this effect (Bloodline is full of neat dream sequences and violent deaths that make the use of the handheld camera easier to understand) but damn, girl’s just going to the fridge to get a sandwich, does she need to waver around like I’m on acid? Am I on acid? That’s not the point. There was even a moment near the end when the Surgeon and Sandra finally have their showdown where it actually looks like the camera got knocked over and bounced around on the ground a few times before being picked up. Yeah. They kept that in there.
The saving graces of this movie were the sound quality (thanks for pulling double duty, Marco!) and the creature effects (why the Surgeon’s victims are turning into zombies is never really explained, I’m just assuming the chemicals he shoots them with play a part in it but I’m a huge fan of handmade effects and these were done very well), but most especially by a fantastic performance by Faiella as “Sandra”. She’s too good for this cheaply made film. She’s gorgeous, which definitely helps, but the woman is a natural onscreen. Surrounded by actors hamming it up to SciFi Channel proportions (I absolutely refuse to spell it the new way), she remains honest, raw, and believable right up to the very end, despite having to work with somewhat clichéd dialogue and a cameraman with perpetual butterfingers.
Bloodline could’ve been an interesting addition to the horror genre: the concept of using small cameras to film a feature-length picture is admirable, but it’s ruined by not utilizing something as simple as even a monopod. The shakiness was so distracting that not even a stellar lead performance could save it. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone with a sensitive stomach, and that has nothing to do with the gore.