Bound to an ancient pact, a family of unlimited power descends upon a small rural town to sacrifice a human life, a newborn baby that is a bloodline of their own family.
The occult horror flick Blood Bound claims to be an amalgamation of Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell but ends up resembling Andrew Fleming’s The Craft and Renny Harlin’s The Covenant in its shoddy attempts of depicting witchcraft, as well as eliciting belly laughs as opposed to spine-tingling dread. That said, producer/writer/director Richard LeMay infuses his cinematic orgy of Satanism and drug-addled kids with enough compelling elements to make it stand out in the admittedly pitiful subgenre of “black magic” movies.
Blood Bound hits the ground running, its first 30 minutes or so being the most compelling. Heroin-addicted Sean (Kieran Culkin-lookalike Eric Nelsen) wants to have sex with his reluctant virgin girlfriend, heroin-addicted Kerry (young Jessica Lange-lookalike Eden Brolin – who happens to be Josh Brolin’s daughter). Joined by a ragtag group of misfits, Kerry and Sean rob houses – until the tables turn, and the preys become the hunters. An occult ritual involving several possessed members, a voodoo doll and Kerry’s graphic rape (!) leaves our already-troubled teens deeply traumatized. As one of the cult members, the hapless David (Henry Caville-lookalike Ross Wellinger) starts stalking Kerry, the rest of the kids are hunted down in mildly-inventive ways (death by drug overdose! death by blade through the veins! death by… freaky demon!).
“An occult ritual involving several possessed members, a voodoo doll and Kerry’s graphic rape…”
In an effort to lighten up the cult/drug/murder/rape-filled proceedings, LeMay adds a healthy dose of suicide, infanticide and general nihilism to the mix. If it weren’t for the inherent silliness of the concept, Blood Bound would have been almost unbearable to watch just due to its relentless grimness, a sordid trip through hell’s darkest alleys. Thankfully, LeMay divulges the cult’s ludicrous (and ludicrously convoluted) background, peppers it with hysterical one-liners, catastrophically fails at directing half of his cast – all of the above turning Blood Bound into a midnight movie delight, sometimes creepy and always unintentionally hilarious. It may fail to terrorize today’s desensitized audiences, but it will surely tickle their ribs.
In lieu of waxing poetic about the filmmaker’s knack for stoopid… ahem, “memorable” dialogue, I’ll let the following samples speak for themselves: “I’ve never had sex with anyone outside of my family.” “Her youth is intoxicating.” “I must perform the ritual myself in order to fulfill my destiny.” “Two hundred years ago, a distant cousin of mine made a pact with a demon.” “It is unsettling to be around such darkness. It can’t be trusted.” “The darkness doesn’t care about right or wrong – it cares about blood.” “It feeds on fear. That’s part of the requirement.” And so on and so forth.
“…a midnight movie delight, sometimes creepy and always unintentionally hilarious.”
What’s unfortunate (or perhaps it’s the film’s saving grace?) is that LeMay’s film does have quite a few things going for it. Eden Brolin’s central performance, by turns vulnerable and angsty, holds the narrative together – she’s clearly a talented young actress who learned the best from her daddy (and granddaddy). Some other actors fare quite well – Eric Nelsen being a particular standout – while others quite less so (I’m looking at you, weepy Ross Wellinger). LeMay knows how to stage a sequence and create atmosphere on an obviously small budget. Composer Adonis Tsilimparis provides a suitably ominous score, complementing cinematographer Vitaly Bokser’s atmospheric cinematography. A few of the themes he touches upon – namely, sexual awakening, the self-destructive nature of teenagers, obsession/devotion, among others – along with how smoothly the film shifts gears in the first few minutes, provide glimpses into what could have been.
What we have instead is an overly earnest, deeply flawed horror flick whose continuity is as off-putting as its ending. Sometimes less is more. If the film stuck to the courage of its convictions and remained a minimalist, body-horror study of teenagers, a-la Julia Ducournau’s slick (and sick) flick Raw or Charles Burns’ graphic novel Black Hole, it could’ve left a lasting imprint. Instead, it veers off into bonkers land. Catch it at 2:30am next time you’re smoking that bong, and you’re bound to enjoy it.
Blood Bound (2019) Written and Directed by Richard LeMay. Starring Eden Brolin, Eric Nelsen, Ross Wellinger, Rosa Arredondo, Timothy Hughes, Vanessa Rubio, Gerald McCullouch.
5 out of 10