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Book Of Blood (2009)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Director:
John Harrison John Harrison
Starring:
Jonas Armstrong Jonas Armstrong
Sophie Ward Sophie Ward
Clive Russell Clive Russell
Paul Blair Paul Blair
Romana Abercromby Romana Abercromby

5.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Haunted House Film, Horror, Supernatural Horror
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Review by Chad
Added: June 12, 2011
Having just read Clive Barker's Books of Blood series a short while back, I was pumped to go and watch the movie adaptations of all of those stories. I had already seen most of them, but Dread and tonight's film were both new to me, and I was excited to dive into both as I really enjoyed the two stories. Book of Blood, the film, is based on the wraparound story found in Books of Blood, the book series, and I thought that it had potential; I mean, the book presented it as a creepy story with plenty of graphic imagery that would look great on the screen, and even though I knew going in that it would require a little padding to stretch it out to feature length status, I thought it could work. The final product, however, had way more padding than I initially expected. That was not a good thing.

The story centers around Mary (Sophie Ward) and Reg (Paul Blair), a pair of paranormal investigators who are attempting to make contact with the other side at a local haunted house. You see, this particular house used to belong to a medium (Doug Bradley in a cameo appearance) who was murdered by an unseen force. The house was sold to a family later on, and their daughter was also murdered while doing some teenage voodoo nonsense. In both cases, the words "Don't mock us" were found written in blood at the scene, and both people were murdered in particularly grisly ways.

So, Mary and Reg are setting up shop in this house and attempting to get to the bottom of things, when in walks Simon (Jonas Armstrong). As it turns out, Simon is a clairvoyant, and Mary believes that getting him to help could be the key to solving this mystery. She brings him on board, much to the chagrin of the jealous Reg, and weird shit starts to happen... and at the same time, Mary starts to get the hots for her newfound partner.

I'm going to leave the description at that for two reasons: one, I don't want to spoil it for those of you who are new to this tale, and two, there's not much more to be said unless I spoil one of the biggest plot points in the story. As I already mentioned, this story was originally used as an introduction to a collection of short stories, so needless to say, it was rather short. This was a problem that I knew the filmmakers would have had to work around before I ever popped the disc in, but sadly, the way that they worked around it didn't work very well in my eyes.

You see, the film starts out by moving along at a nice pace. We're given a flashback sequence to set the tone and show a little gore, we meet the characters, we get a little bit of story about the house, and everything just feels like a proper horror film should. Then, once everything is established and the plot should be getting down to business, it just sort of stops. The finale of the movie revolves around one twist, and until that twist is revealed, the plot simply can't go any further. That worked out fine in the printed version as there were no length requirements, but here, the story reaches that point at around the thirty-minute mark. Having to add an extra hour onto the running time means that we're getting a lot of padding, and even though I went in expecting some, the amount that I got just caused me to shake my head.

For starters, the entire love affair was completely pointless and did nothing for the story except provide us with a little T&A. Sex sells, so I could overlook that, but the amount of film that was devoted to this did drag it down. There are also some scenes that are simply rehashed over and over again to pad the film out, and even though the scene was nice the first time around, watching it repeat did not grab my attention. Simon is locked up in the most haunted room of the house while Mary and Reg watch via camera, the monitors turn to static, the door slams shut, and Simon is heard screaming and thrashing about. The door eventually opens, and we discover that Simon has been beaten and cut, and there are also spooky writings on the walls. Neat scene... until we watch the same damned thing play out again and again.

By now, you're probably thinking that I hated the film. That's not true: I thought it was pretty damned good considering the padding requirements, and even though I wasn't crazy about any of the actors, I also can't say that any of them did a horrible job. I loved the core story, I thought that the ending provided some great visuals, and the opening face-ripping scene is a great example of gore done right. Had this story been used by the same director with the same cast and cut down to a short film, I would have loved it and called it one of the year's best - unfortunately, the amount of padding dragged it down to a mere "rent it if you love Barker" recommendation. 6/10.
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Lucid Dreams #1: Lucid Dreams - added 06/12/2011, 02:59 PM
Good review and I agree with the score. 6/10
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