Thursday, September 13, 2012

BLOOD RIVER (2009) movie review

Blood River (2009) d. Mason, Adam

I was one of the few who genuinely appreciated Mason’s 2006 two-hander Broken, as it managed to pull off the difficult task of “torture porn with a point.” I’d been curious what he’d been up to, but in looking at his filmography, I’m the one who’s been slacking, as he’s cranked out four films since then with a fifth in post-production as we speak. Again employing a small ensemble, Blood River starts off on a very promising path: a husband and wife (Ian Duncan, Tess Panzer) traveling across the southwest encounter Andrew Howard’s mysterious charismatic drifter en route. But what seems to be a simple cautionary tale about not talking to strangers evolves into something far more mystical and/or metaphysical – it’s just too bad that Mason and co-screenwriter Simon Boyes aren’t willing to be a little less obtuse in revealing just what the hell is going on.

Truthfully, this probably should have been about 20 minutes shorter because it travels the same ground over and over, with characters hitting the same histrionic notes until they lose their potency, and when the big reveal is no reveal at all, the viewer can have two reactions: They can say, “oh, wow, man, I didn’t get it so it must be really deep, man…” or they can say, “Um, **** you, pal.” There’s no denying the strength of the performances (Howard is the poor man’s Michael Rooker, and that’s meant as a compliment), the terrific cinematography or the compelling nature of the first half of the film – Mason just needed to deliver more steak with all that sizzle.

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