‘Blood Vessel‘ – what a terrific title! Not a first in its kind when it comes to ghost ships nor Nazi-horror, it tries to combine the two for a rather original but unsatisfying take on this horror sub-genre.
Near the end of World War II, the survivors of a torpedoed hospital ship cling to life aboard a crowded lifeboat. With no food, water, or shelter, all seems lost – until an eerily silent German minesweeper drifts ominously towards them, giving them one last chance at survival. When this band of brothers starts exploring, wondering what happened to the German crew, and encounters a young Romanian girl, we descend deeper and deeper into the darkness with an ancient evil hiding deep withing the bowels of the vessel.
Australian director Justin Dix, mostly known for his special effects work on Star Wars Episode II & III, explores the WWII sub-genre in his new horror vehicle ‘Blood Vessel‘. Co-written by Jordan Prosser (Tanglewood), their film takes quite a long time to get to that horror part most viewers are waiting for. There’s a diverse bunch of annoyingly underwritten characters, with over-the- top thick accents. Unfortunately Dix also uses tokenism and gender stereotypes, which seems fitting for a film that takes place during WWII, but also horribly uninspired.
In the middle of this bunch of one-dimensional characters, there’s only one actor who is really enjoyable and believable as the Soviet-soldier Alexander Teplov, played by Alex Cooke (Sunshine). He’s here to provide some comic relief and embraces the character with convincingly detailed mannerisms. The rest of the cast try their best, with what’s given to them, but never really leave a lasting impression. ‘Blood Vessel‘ just takes itself way too bloody serious. Given its subject matter and a lurking evil underneath this crew’s feet, it would’ve helped the film to lean towards a more comedic angle. As a horror film, it just seems to be stuck on a sandbank.
Dix’s film does have some incredible set design, that really captures the essence of this war-inspired monster feature. His use of lots of red and blue lights, make Blood Vessel look more polished than it actually is. With its uninspired sound design, the claustrophobic atmosphere that could’ve worked in the film’s favour, never really gets a chance to settle down. The original design of its criminally underutilized big evil, definitely could’ve benefited from a bigger budget. You can tell Dix wanted to go there with the few gorier scenes the film holds, but since these scenes are so sparse, the viewer’s hunger for blood never gets fulfilled. Credit given where credit’s due, this monster feature does have some of the best special effects I’ve seen in a long time in a small budget Aussie-film.
This B-movie never dives deep enough to get to the bottom of what could’ve been an entertaining creature feature. Unfortunately ‘Blood Vessel‘ keels over, long before true evil (briefly) shows its face.
‘Blood Vessel’ releases August 5 on DVD at JB Hi Fi and Sanity,
and VOD on iTunes, Google, Fetch, Foxtel Store, Umbrella Entertainment.
Review – ‘Blood Vessel’
Reviewed online (screener provided by Umbrella Entertainment), July 29, 2020. Rating: MA15+ Running time: 95 min.
PRODUCTION: Storm Vision Entertainment and Wicked Of Oz Studios presents in association with Rock Island Films and SunJive Studios an Umbrella Entertainment release. Producers: Justin Dix, Matthew Graham, Steven Matusko, Steven McKinnon, Nathan Phillips. Executive producers: Corey Trent Ackerman, Jeff Harrison, Brett Thornquest.
CREW: Director: Justin Dix. Screenplay: Justin Dix, Jordan Prosser. Camera: Sky Davies. Editor: Dave Redman. Music: Brian Cachia.
WITH: Nathan Phillips, Alyssa Sutherland, Robert Taylor, Christopher Kirby, Alex Cooke, Mark Diaco, John Lloyd Fillingham, Vivienne Perry, Steve Young, Jacinta Stapleton.