Dry Blood, from Dread Central Presents, pushes the common pains of drug withdrawal to a violent extreme, with elements of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. Quitting drugs, whether it’s alcohol or heroin, is easier said than done. There will be multiple failed attempts, that will test the patience of those who care about you. It’s a slow, painful process, that will put your body and mind in constant discomfort.
After hitting rock bottom, Brian Barnes (played by writer Clint Carney) decides it’s time to get sober, once and for all. He leaves a voicemail with his friend Anna, telling her that he’s going to his cabin to get clean and that he could use her companionship. The cabin in question actually belongs to Brian’s ex-wife, but he’s positive that she won’t be up for a while. Brian’s plan, on the surface, seems like it might work. The cabin is located in a peaceful part of the mountains, far removed from the temptations of the city. For the first couple days, Brian is completely on his own, working the drugs out of his system.
“…the gore effects are surprisingly impressive […] Using a combination of CGI and makeup, the end product is a ghastly image that burns into the back of your brain.”
The second night of being alone in the cabin, Brian sees a light suddenly turn on in the bathroom and hears the shower running. Thinking Anna walked in without him knowing, he goes to investigate. Instead of seeing a familiar face, he is greeted by a rotting corpse, standing in his bathroom, similar to the mysterious woman in The Shining. Having to deal with the stress of seeing ghosts in the cabin, Brian needs something to calm him down. In his haste to get away from the city, he realized that he forgot to rid himself of any remaining drugs. He manages to find a bag of powder in his pocket and a few lone pills on the floor of his car. Brian ingests the pills, saving the powder for later. Sobriety is no longer a priority when the living dead show up at the cabin.
The stress keeps building. Between ghosts that only he can see, being harassed by a smug sheriff, Anna constantly telling him he’s paranoid and withdrawing from drugs, Brian increasingly becomes more detached from reality. At one moment, he’ll be covered in blood, standing over a body and the next he’ll be spotless, looking around an empty room, dumbfounded. He can’t differentiate from his actions and his hallucinations. When the last of his hidden stash disappears up his nose, Brian becomes a danger to himself and the people around him.
Going into this movie, I was hoping for an honest portrayal of addiction and recovery. Drug users are often stigmatized in film. Their dependence on drugs is depicted as a result of a moral failure or a weak mind, and therefore, they are somehow deserving of the torment unleashed upon them. It’s revealed that Brian has been seeing ghosts since he was as young as 16, before he started using drugs. The cabin itself isn’t haunted, but actually has been a problem that has followed Brian all his life. It would explain his use of drugs, to cope with his mental state. Carney embodies Brian as a classic addict: unstable and prone to violent outbursts. At first, Brian comes off as merely misunderstood, but his choices will make him irredeemable in the eye of the audience. I suppose I will have to look elsewhere for a positive representation of drug recovery.
But, hey! You didn’t come here for some kind of Requiem For a Dream guilt trip about the consequences of drug use. No, you’re here for the horror! You could care less about Brian’s well-being. Where’s the Dry Blood after all? In this respect, viewers will not be disappointed. The ghosts in the cabin have their unique scars, indicative to how they might have died. Probably the most frightening of them is a little girl with a severed head and a ballerina tutu. Without giving too much away, the gore effects are surprisingly impressive. Many of the blows are taken to the face, probably the hardest wounds to pull off. Using a combination of CGI and makeup, the end product is a ghastly image that burns into the back of your brain.
“Dry Blood is a triumphantly dark induction into the horror genre.”
As a feature-length directorial debut for Kelton Jones (who also played the Sheriff), Dry Blood is a triumphantly dark induction into the horror genre. I’m usually skeptical whenever a director or writer think they have the acting chops to take on the lead roles in their own movie, but Jones and Carney embrace their characters with authenticity. The bar has been set for these two, and I plan to keep an eye out for their next project.
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