Starring Elisa Lasowski, Anders Heinrichsen, Christian Erickson
Written by Raphaël Hernandez, Savitri Joly-Gonfard
Directed by Raphaël Hernandez, Savitri Joly-Gonfard
Three years ago, synth masters Carpenter Brut released a video for their track “Turbo Killer”, which has since garnered well over seven million views. Combining sci-fi, horror, cyberpunk, cosmic terror, and more, the video received critical acclaim, skyrocketing interest in the band and appreciation of the musical genre.
Directed by collective Seth Ickerman (Raphaël Hernandez and Savitri Joly-Gonfard), the interest and love of the video was so great that they decided to expand the world in the form of a short film. A few Kickstarters and one Shudder acquisition later, welcome to Blood Machines.
A 50-minute film, Blood Machines follows the exploits of two space hunters as they track a mysterious woman who just so happens to be the soul of a spaceship. There ya go. That’s all you need and, incidentally, that’s kind of all you’re going to get.
Visually stunning, Blood Machines is undeniably gorgeous. The production value is high and it’s clear that every cent they raised was put onto the screen. This is one of those movies where you can see how much of their imagination became reality and it’s rather awe-inspiring. The hunters’ spaceship feels lived in with the props thought out and believable. The world-building (universe-building?) is fantastic and beautiful, splashed with a rainbow of celestial colors. I imagine watching this one high will be one helluva experience.
Carpenter Brut‘s original music is powerful and engaging, although there are times when it is oddly misplaced, lingers for too long, or overpowers the rest of the film, drowning out dialogue. The timing of the film could also use some tightening. For example, there is a sequence at the end of Chapter One that is immediately replayed at the beginning of Chapter Two, even though mere seconds had elapsed. It’s a very “Saw flashback” moment where viewers can easily be left wondering, “Why am I looking at what I just saw?”
The acting is mediocre but serviceable but the moments of cheesy dialogue feel off. There is also little in the way of a cohesive, substantial story. Deeper subtexts could be parsed out but getting to them feels like a stretch. With such strong visuals, this feels like a case where getting other writers to flesh out a predetermined story would have been the right course of action.
Paying clear homage to Metal Hurlant and Heavy Metal, Blood Machines has serious potential but fails to live up to its lofty ambitions.
Blood Machines is a daring and bold effort that comes with a fair share of baggage. That it’s visually stunning isn’t enough to outweigh its flaws. With this being their second longform short, collective Seth Ickerman has shown plenty of growth and the skies the limit for where they can go from here.