Fantasia 2019: BLOOD ON HER NAME Review – Southern Gothic with Small-Town Grit

bloodonhername 750x422 - Fantasia 2019: BLOOD ON HER NAME Review – Southern Gothic with Small-Town Grit
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Starring Bethany Anne Lind, Will Patton, Elisabeth Röhm, Jared Ivers

Written by Don Thompson, Matthew Pope

Directed by Matthew Pope

Leigh Tiller (Bethany Anne Lind) is introduced mid-crisis. Bearing the signs of a fresh fight, the film opens to her standing in an auto shop with a dead man on the cold, oil-soaked floor. Her fingers hover over her phone, with 911 only a tap away. Her next set of decisions dictate the course her life will take. She makes the wrong choice. 

Leigh is the pinnacle of a multidimensional character. She’s a single mom, struggling to keep her teenage son from following the path of his father who is in jail. She’s a small business owner, struggling to keep her mechanic’s shop in the black. She’s the daughter of the town sheriff (Will Patton), struggling to distance herself from him and the memories of their troubled past. Lind beautifully balances the strength and vulnerability of Leigh’s character. Underneath her stoic mask is a confused and conflicted woman, which Lind unveils through occasional glances at the traumatized girl lurking inside. 

Leigh’s journey is fraught with anxiety, guilt, and ambivalence. As the story uncoils, we learn more and more about Leigh’s complicated life. We replay that opening scene in the garage with a different set of eyes upon each new deposit of information. Blood on Her Name artfully exposes how many shades of morality can live inside a single human; how much contradiction can exist within a singular decision; and how precarious the definition of a good person can be. 

Blood on Her Name presents this landscape of textured humanity with straightforwardness. The visual design is simple, never showy or overly theatrical. Described as a neo-noir, its palette is cold and its feel is uncompromising. Pope’s film lingers on close-ups, allowing deep performances to drive the tension. While there is a harshness to its aesthetic, there is also an intimacy to the compositions. Pope visually represents the internal angst of Leigh’s unwinnable battle between right and wrong, resulting in a nearly amoral lens on violent conflict.

By the end, there’s a prevailing feeling of senseless. How much of the bloodshed could have been avoided with a different set of decisions? When cornered, Leigh folds into cowardice. Her fear is the architect of her fate. If that fear had not been driving her course of action, the conclusion may not have been drenched in violence and regret. 

While there’s a cautionary tale at play, I’m not sure it’s telling us something we haven’t heard in similar films depicting revenge stories. I can’t help but wonder how much more I would have loved this film had the depth of its themes been more complex and unique. In place of that feeling of senseless or the amoral lens, I found myself wanting the film to make a statement that I could chew on long after the credits rolled. 

Well-crafted and creeping with tension, Blood on Her Name is a tragic vision of flawed humanity. There’s a quiet desperation that builds into a heartbreaking finale, anchored by Lind’s profound performance. Fans of rural revenge and backwoods crime, like Blue Ruin or Shotgun Stories, will eat this one up. Don’t sleep on it.

  • Blood on Her Name


Blood on Her Name is tense, tough, and tender at the same time. With an outstanding performance from its lead, this neo-noir shouldn’t be missed.

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