Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Starring Sophie Monk, Anya Lahiri, Scout Taylor-Compton, Justin Shilton
Directed by Ron Carlson
Distributed by Chelsea Films
The premise of Life Blood, aka Pearblossom, is rife with exploitative goodness: Two lipstick-lesbian girlfriends are forced on the run after one of them murders a would-be rapist at a New Year’s party in 1968. A supernatural encounter at the side of the road sees a female God (Angela Lindvall) turn them both into dormant vampires, bound to feed on the wicked as instruments of Her wrath. Now, 40 years later, they awaken – and one of them isn’t quite willing to use her powers for good.
The final product, however, shies away from the overt 70s-style sexuality one might expect in favour of (an admittedly alluring) braless and sweaty Sophie Monk in a tight white top. It’s also not as much of the grandiose “good versus evil” digest that it seems to believe it is. Essentially, the story breaks down as the opening murder/visit by God. The pair awakening, where the RAPIDLY evil Brooke (Monk) kills an innocent man, to them moving on and holing up for the daytime inside the “Murderworld” convenience store. There, our lesbian lovers bicker, argue and eventually come to blows over their natures (of course, Brooke believes they can be more than gods and use their powers however they see fit – her obsession being asserting murderous dominance; Anya (Lahiri) on the other hand wishes nothing more than to fulfill the task given them by the Almighty). Besides this, we have a traveling family who arrive looking for a toilet break, and the cops (led by Charles Napier doing what Charles Napier does in his sleep) all lined up as targets for Brooke’s bloodlust.
The majority of the runtime takes place within the convenience store, where Monk is allowed to let rip her portrayal of the predatory Brooke – and it’s a great performance, truth be told. She’s sexy, seductive and vicious, but that’s exactly where the character ends. Brooke is very one-note with very little nuance whatsoever. Sure, Monk plays this note brilliantly – but a person onstage with a guitar repeatedly playing an A chord (with maybe the occasional Em) isn’t going to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Lahiri’s Rhea is similarly vacant – wanting to do nothing but the superlative good the entire time, continually spouting faux-poignant pious, philosophical dialogue that just comes across as trite and uninspired – even grating at times given her perfectly English accent. Wisely, Monk is given the majority of the second act to play, but the method of getting Lahiri back into the narrative is just an unsatisfying replay of previous events. Considering the limited budget, it feels as though Life Blood’s dialogue has been horrendously over-written to compensate for what is, essentially, almost a film-length version of From Dusk Till Dawn’s convenience store opening, but it only does what could have been more of a fun little vampire flick an untoward disservice.
Carlson’s direction is generally competent, if not particularly impressive, and this also extends to Life Blood’s visuals. Gore and violence re sporadic but presented well, but the real final nail in the coffin for the flick comes with the complete lack of any real climax or final showdown whatsoever. Almost “blink and you’ll miss it”, Brooke and Rhea’s ultimate confrontation is pathetically feeble. Admittedly, the second act is suitably involving and well paced, but all but the most ardent vampire or Sophie Monk fans are likely to be left remarkably underwhelmed when the credits roll.
Chelsea Films’ DVD presentation of Life Blood comes paired with the trailer and a selection of alternate/extended/deleted scenes. Most of these have on-set, untreated, or no audio and don’t particularly serve much purpose whatsoever – mainly being repeated takes of a line or sequence. I’m never one to scoff at any extra addition, so it’s certainly welcome if less than interesting.
2 out of 5
1 out of 5