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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Review: Dry Blood

Director: Kelton Jones
Screenplay: Clint Carney
Years: 2017

Low budget independent horror movies are not for everyone. Only the true fans of horror films can see beyond the obvious flaws they will have because of technical and monetary limitations and appreciate what they try con convey. “Dry Blood” is one of these films. In “Dry Blood” Brian, a young guy addicted to drugs and alcohol decided to go to a cabin in the woods to try and detoxify. Once there, he starts being harassed by a local police officer, at the same time as he starts having visions in the cabin. Soon Brian is unable to differentiate if what he sees is real or if they are hallucinations as a consequence of the detoxification process.

In ‘Dry Blood” the mental deterioration of the protagonist Brian, interpreted by Clint Carney, who also wrote the script for the movie, is explored as he tries to detoxify. Because of the premise it works with and the short budget, much of the movie is shot in the cabin where Brian recludes himself, and the acting and character development of the protagonist carries much weight. The development of the plot is a slow burn and can test the less patient viewers. Except for some punctual scenes well crafted and placed, more than half of the movie is centered in dialogues, particularly of the protagonist with a friend that decides to be with him and support him in this process, interpreted by Jaymie Valentine, and in how the protagonist interacts with his surroundings and how he deals with his detoxification. This puts a lot of weight in the acting, and I must say that this is the lowest part of the movie. The actor interpreting the protagonists have scarce acting experience and this is evident throughout the film. The acting is not horrible, but they come out as exaggerated, forced, or do not manage to transmit what the intent and this is an important flaw in a movie that depends so much in the acting.

Resembling what happens in the head of the protagonist, the viewer is constantly debating if what is happening is a product of Brian’s imagination or it is real. Once Brian arrives at the cabin he starts to have frightening apparitions y it is not clear if the cabin is haunted or they are hallucinations. Since early in the movie it is clear that Brian has psychotic disorders as a result of the use of drugs and alcohol, but in some conversations, it seems like these psychotic disorders have been with him since before he started using these substances. In a similar way, it is shown that horrible events may have happened in the cabin and that it may be haunted by them. This constant mix of psychological thriller and paranormal horror was well used and the desire to discover what is really happening is the main motivation to sink into the plot.

The final part, even when the events are expected seeing how the story develops, how it was presented took me by surprise. While more than half of the movie has a slow pace, the last third transforms into an exhibition of frenetic gore. Here is when Brian’s mental deterioration reaches a critical state and he starts to take extremely violent actions, but it remains unclear how much of it is real and how much is imagined. This game opens the door for the final part to be as confusing as it is for the protagonist, trying that the viewer experiences the same as him. These scenes take the movie to a whole new level. The acting of the protagonist, which I have considered to be exaggerated in the rest of the movie, here fits perfectly. The realism in the violent and horror scenes is unlikely for a movie with such a short budget and I consider this is what was better achieved and manages to close with power an interesting premise, that until that point was developed too slowly.

“Dry Blood” is an interesting proposal, but with a tight budget and limited experience from the cast and production crew, it does not manage to exploit all its potential. This movie will only manage to be liked by a small group of horror movie fans that manage to see above its limitations and enjoy an intriguing plot and a violent and gory ending. Even though I believe it manages to do more than what was expected, and it remains to see if the careers of the young crew will be fruitful in the horror movie industry, as they do have the potential.

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