Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Jeremy Make, Christy Cianci, Tamara Walawitz, Hank Torrance, Michael Wrann as Jacob
Directed by Steven Charles Castle
“Written by SCI Team”
I’ve heard of films being written by committee before, but an entire team? I’m assuming the initials “SCI” stand for Synthetic Cinema International, the name of the production company responsible for this film. The very notion that it took more than one person to write Blood Descendants baffles me. A lethal lynching long ago brings about a curse that leads to the murdered man coming back from the grave to exact vengeance on the descendants of those who wronged him – it really took a team to compose that?
Some college students have to work together on a class project researching a different culture and decide to do it about some local Amish-like agriculturalists who shun technology but aren’t nearly as stand-offish with the outside world as one might expect. It helps that classmate Matt is dating a girl named Jenny who happens to be a member of this agrarian subculture. Matt keeps getting no shortage of grief dumped on him by his so-called friends, in part because he’s been dating her for six months and they’ve yet to have sex, but also because they look down upon her for being some primitive bumpkin.
Matt calls them all assholes at one point and that’s putting it mildly when we see how these assholes behave. It’s bad enough that they spied on Jenny bathing and videotaped her doing so, but then they turned around and planted a camera in Matt’s dorm room so that when he and Jenny finally did succumb to their carnal desires, they could all watch the two making love live as it happened. Then they started burning copies of it to DVD with the intent to post the footage online. The relationship between Matt and Jenny is actually kind of sweet, a fact that only goes to make his classmates come across all the more dickish. I’d go so far to say his “friends” are even more unlikable than the undead, vengeance-minded, zombie slasher the film is based around.
Even Matt’s own father gives him grief for dating Jenny. In his case, he doesn’t like seeing his son with one of their kind because her people have a dark history with the townsfolk. There was a similar relationship back in 1866 between a young woman from the town and an agrarian named Jacob Bradford. She ended up pregnant and the disapproving townsfolk lynched and murdered him. Those responsible were then cursed. It was said that Jacob would rise from his grave one day to take revenge. Oh, and young Jenny is his great, great granddaughter and Matt’s family were amongst Jacob’s murderers. Jacob finally does indeed come back from the great beyond and when he isn’t killing innocent members of his killers’ bloodline, he turns his attention to slaying those asshole classmates and magically destroying any DVDs they have of Matt and Jenny making love as his own personal way of protecting Jenny’s modesty.
Why is it nobody ever moves away in movies like this? I’ve seen so many films of this sort where hundreds of years have passed and still members of various families continue to live within a several mile radius of one another. Supernatural killers plotting to extinguish particular family trees always seem to have it so convenient for them.
As far as supernatural movie slashers go, Jacob Bradford is pretty run-of-the-mill, aside from his brief foray into anti-pornography crusading. Dressed like Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter and with the skin complexion of a rotting pumpkin, Jacob goes around stabbing and slashing his victims with his trusty sickles and uttering “your debt has been paid” afterwards in a demonic-sounding voice. Jacob’s also one of those supernatural slashers who has a very straightforward agenda and yet there seems to be an awful lot of lag time in between killings. Much like I recently asked about the monster in the movie Bone Eater (review); what is this supernatural killer that has risen from the grave with one purpose doing when he’s not fulfilling that one purpose?
Despite an acceptable first and third act, it’s the sluggish midsection where the film suffers most. There’s just entirely too much of a subplot involving a pair of cops investigating the murders. This male and female cop tandem goes around mostly figuring out stuff that more often than not is already apparent to everyone watching the film – call it “CSI: Redundancy”. There’s so much of them it stifles the forward momentum of the primary plot. And then their relationship appears to start blossoming into a potential romantic subplot between the two. That also didn’t help.
Though the whole direction of this film is fairly low key (actually somewhat refreshing given so many of its ilk that strive for hyper active and jokey) and the tone more somber than not, there are moments where things try to get a little on the wacky side with entirely mixed results. There’s a Jacob attack scene that ends with someone taking a painfully unfunny pratfall running into a fence and bonking their head that stuck me as being a gag more befitting a Three Ninjas movie. I was, however, amused when one character attempted to kickbox Jacob; the way that guy’s girlfriend reacted to this fight was also rather unexpected. It’s one of the only moments in the entire film that could be described as unexpected.
This really is the sort of review I most hate having to write since I really don’t have any strong feelings either way. Blood Descendants isn’t so bad that it warrants being totally slammed and yet there really isn’t much for me to recommend. It’s not schlocky enough to be much fun either. This is familiar material we’ve all seen done much better and far worse. The acting is pretty solid all things considered and it’s a good looking film boasting nice use of lighting and shadows. Jacob Bradford just isn’t a particularly compelling slasher, the kills are fairly routine and the story even more so. It certainly isn’t scary. I suppose you could do far worse if you’re looking for a slasher flick. Problem is, for me, this was just another slasher movie.
2 1/2 out of 5
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