Friday, August 23, 2019


Blood Paradise (2018) d. Patrick von Barkenberg (Sweden) (84 min)

Devastated by crippling negative reviews and her dim-witted lover failing in the bedroom, novelist Robin Richards (Andréa Winter) attempts to snap out of her funk by traveling to the exotic rural areas of Sweden. (You know, like you do.) In between periods of staring at her blank computer screen and nude swims in the nearby lake, she finds herself drawn into an increasingly bizarre web of characters, including enigmatic Farmer Rolf (Rolf Brunnstrom) who owns the property, personal driver and “#1 fan” Hans Bubi (Christer Cavallius), his fiery bride Elsa (Elinor Berglund), who trades time between tending her indoor garden and railing at her husband’s imagined infidelities, and a host of other local weirdees. But the bucolic and idiosyncratic atmosphere soon gives way to obsession and murder, with Robin left fighting for her very survival and perhaps her sanity as well....

Following a series of well-received shorts, Von Barkenberg’s debut feature is a true family effort, teaming up with his fetching, statuesque life partner Winter (the two co-wrote the script, with the latter also handling producing and composing duties) to deliver an intriguing and skillfully constructed genre piece that invests a fair amount of time getting all the pieces on the board before upending the whole damn thing and breaking out the blood bags and Texas Chain Saw Massacre tributes.

The cast is solid, with Brunnstrom nailing the ambiguously sinister bumpkin role perfectly, while Cavallius and Berglund play a hilariously high-strung duet of neuroses. Von Barkenberg even gets into the act, playing Robin’s goofy amour Teddy, running with all his dragon chakras open and an enjoyably vacant look in his eyes.

But it’s Winter’s show, and she squeezes all the juice out of the personal showcase that it is, displaying a knowing feel for light comedy during her scenes with Cavallius’ well-meaning and clearly smitten admirer before descending into darker terrain opposite Brunnstrom. By the time the enigmatic final scene (hello, sheep) unfurls before our eyes, she’s demonstrated more range than other scream queens might in a dozen combined efforts.

Cinematographer Thomas Rist beautifully captures the lovely Swedish countryside, with deliciously stunning shots of flora and fauna off-setting his protagonist’s increasingly uncomfortable plight. And while the deliberate pace and character-building of the first two acts might prove off-putting for those seeking mindless thrills, the insanity of the final reel more than makes up for it. If this is what vanity projects look like around the Winter/Barkenberg household, I say bring ’em on.


Deleted Scenes (9 min)

Music Videos (featuring Andréa Winter as Baby Yaga):
Dreamer (4:30)
You and Me (4:00)

Blood Paradise is available now on DVD from Artsploitation Films and can be ordered HERE:


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