NEW TO HULU! Looking through the end credits of Hulu’s Books Of Blood, it was quite surprising to discover that horror maestro Mike Flanagan had nothing to do with it. This adaptation of Clive Barker’s 1985 short story collection, written by director Brannon Braga and Adam Simon, is so desperate to imitate the likes of Hush or The Haunting Of Hill House that it utterly forgets to carve out its own identity. As such, the movie comes across as a disjointed, dull mess, and horror fans would be better served by revisiting the 2009 adaptation Book Of Blood (note the singular book, versus the new one’s plurality).
The anthology starts out with two gangsters (maybe?) in a desperate search for the titular book. And for the longest time, this is a disconnected prologue, though the movie finally remembers these characters exist over an hour in. But, more on that later.
For all intent and purposes, Books Of Blood actually begins with Jenna (Britt Robertson) confiding in her mom that she has stopped taking her meds. See, Jenna’s friend committed suicide not too long ago, which caused her to have a mental breakdown. Compound that with her misophonia (an extreme sensitivity to sound, wherein, for example, people quietly chewing is too loud), and her parents send Jenna to “the farm.” Upon returning home, her mom is always frustrated, so Jenna runs away.
“…messing with spirits can only lead to one dreadful conclusion.”
She winds up at a bed and breakfast run by a seemingly happy couple. But, throughout the night, Jenna sees odd things, and she could swear that people are entering her room at night. Is this her lack of meds playing with her, or is something sinister afoot?
Then, abruptly, this story ends, and a new one begins. And I do mean abrupt! Simon (Rafi Gavron) introduces himself to Mary (Anna Friel), a professor grieving the loss of her son from cancer. Simon claims that he can contact those on the other side, and after a series of tests, he proves that he can. Now the skeptical Mary is using Simon to heal by communicating with her child. But, messing with spirits can only lead to one dreadful conclusion.
Then the mafiosos come back, in a vain and harebrained attempt at bridging all the narratives. They almost run over run Jenna, encounter the owners of the bed and breakfast, and eventually make their way to the professor’s house. But, by the time this happens, the audience has already checked out. Due to its abrupt ending, the first full story leaves viewers confused and disappointed. It does not help that Braga’s idea of scares is cutting to someone vomiting cockroaches, despite it being just a random shot that is more shocking (and even then, not really) as opposed to making one’s heart skip a beat.
"…Britt Robertson...elevates the undeserving material."