If it possible to be both a serial slasher and a family man? Bloodline from Blumhouse Productions and director Henry Jacobson sure think so. The film seeks to subvert your expectations of standard slasher fare, to obliterate your comfort zones, and to help you shed your assumptions – starting with the casting. Bloodline’s lead role belongs to Seann William Scott (American Pie), exploring one of the darkest, most disturbed characters he’s ever portrayed.
Evan (Scott) is in a good place. He has a stable job – a resident social worker for troubled kids at a high school, and a beautiful, growing family – his wife Lauren (Mariela Garriga) is pregnant (very pregnant) with their first child. He too has a good support system; his mother Marie (Dale Dickey) is only too eager to come and help out with the new baby. And, he has a passion – murdering people under the cover of nightfall.
Like any new dad, there are some growing pains the come with juggling a big addition to your already hectic life. His late-night murderous trysts (as you can guess) soon become burdensome. His wife struggles to breast feed, and in turn questions her abilities as a parent. Add the endless late-night feedings, and Marie and her butting heads on parenting styles – Evan’s disappearances in the middle of the night don’t go unnoticed for long.
He’ll soon have to confront the many aspects of his personality, and the man he wants to be going forward. Only, he isn’t a lone wolf anymore. They’re going to have to do it as a family.
The plot of Bloodline is pretty expected. We know right from the opening sequence – a serial killer’s homage to the pilot episode of AMC’S Mad Men, just who Evan is and where his story will take him. Despite – you know– the murders, much of the film plays out like a family relationship drama as the new parents navigate their expectations of each other, and doing the best they can for their new baby. As anticipated, Evan’s vice will eventually jeopardize the home they’ve built, and the stability they’ve been striving to create. But though Bloodline doesn’t verge into unexplored territory, there are some thrilling goodies to discover along the way.
Firstly – let’s talk special effects. I would describe this film as gory – but in doing that, I don’t think I’d be doing the effects justice. Evan is by no means an overly creative killer. Like real life psychopaths, he has his preferred methods. Evan’s involves a knife, and though he is keen on stabbing and impaling, his signature move is the ‘ole blade dragged across the neck.
To use only the word “gory” – the seasoned horror fan would expect endtrails, organ meat, the severing or splitting of body parts. G-O-R-E, Gory. A few stab wounds are typically not anything to phone home about. But here’s my counter: Bloodline is gory because it is confronting. The assaults are visceral. They’re jarring. And frankly – pretty medically accurate. The camera refuses to turn away when they come. Necks subtly split open in high-definition, tight enough that if a theatre piped in the smell of pennies I’m sure a few audiences might have yakked their Alamo Nachos.
“Necks subtly split open in high-definition, tight enough that if a theatre piped in the smell of pennies I’m sure a few audiences might have yakked their Alamo Nachos.”
But it isn’t just the gore that’s confronting. Bloodline takes a bold comparison between birth and death, juxtaposing imagery of a very important and life-changing kill for Evan with witnessing the birth of his first child. Another major turning point in his life. The creation of life for a man who (thus far) has only taken life away. Audiences are treated to a front-row seat of the birth experience, and though it felt a little Grade 9 science class, I appreciated the film’s brazen attempt.
You would assume Seann William Scott would be a hard sell as a serial killer, and perhaps in a different movie he would be – but Evan is molded around him. Using Scott’s natural sense of humor and ease to craft a character who is charming, quirky, and able to lurk in plain sight. He is Dexter Morgan, but if Dexter was the class clown instead of the quiet, shy one. Not taking him seriously 100% of the time also amplifies the sinking feeling you get while witnessing him unrelentingly forcing a knife in and out of someone’s abdomen. In quick succession. Over and over again.
Adding to the comedy, Bloodline layers on the fun with a groovy, club-worthy synth score. Instead of cruising city streets under neon lights, we prowl the halls of hospitals, hunt down the fathers of troubled students, and get ready for a murderous night on the town.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a story you’ve never seen before, Bloodline might not hit the mark. But if you like conflicted emotions, groovy tunes, and well-executed special effects, you’re going to be happy to have found a new serial killer to deliver on all fronts.
Bloodline celebrated its World Premiere at Fantastic Fest 2018. The film is being released by Blumhouse productions, with the date to be set. Check out all of Nightmare on Film Street’s Fantastic Fest coverage here!