Review by Sean Boelman
Although World War II and the horror genre haven’t always mixed well, there are plenty of instances in which filmmakers tap into the wackiness of the genre with just enough self-seriousness for it to work. Justin Dix’s new vampire flick Blood Vessel does just that, offering a fun but predictable romp.
The movie follows the survivors of a hospital ship as they come across a seemingly deserted German ship, hoping it to be their refuge but soon discover that it may be occupied by an ancient evil force. And even though the film sticks pretty closely to its established and well-tested tropes, it manages to satisfy as mindless entertainment.
At just over ninety minutes long, the pacing is admittedly a bit aggressive. However, this allows it to feel quite like an old-school war picture in nature, each sequence serving the purpose of picking another member out of the group until it gets down to the central characters who bring it all home.
Unfortunately, with this, the character development in the movie is largely frustrating. Since it is so easy to predict the order in which the players are going to croak, it’s hard to form a connection to many of them, but the film does benefit from having a truly charming hero as the de facto leader of the batch.
The ensemble is filled with character actors and B-movie stars, and while there aren’t any particular standouts, they all do a good enough job in their roles. Admittedly, many of their performances are silly and over-the-top, but that is just what this movie calls for. It’s a film that’s barely meant to be taken seriously, and the cast seems to know that.
Part of what makes Dix’s movie stand out from similar films is that it is heavily based in mythology as opposed to science fiction. Although the take that Dix and co-writer Jordan Prosser offers is somewhat basic, it is nice to see even a moderately successful attempt at taking a classic monster back to its roots.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the movie, though, is its execution. For a B-movie, the production design and visual effects are shockingly good. There are a few sequences with the Strigoi that are among some of the most fun and creative in a horror movie this year so far, despite not having the suspenseful impact for which it is so obviously aiming.
Blood Vessel may not be the most upscale or intelligent genre picture, but it will fulfill fan’s needs for a gory and mindless bloodbath. While this isn’t the best WWII horror flick, there are certainly worse ones to be found.
Blood Vessel is now available on VOD.