Blood (2023) | Review
Vampires are back in style and they’re taking a bite out of the box office (and home box office)
with Morbius, The Invitation, The Day Shift, Interview With a Vampire TV series, and House of
Darkness, to name a few. Now Brad Anderson, a director who specializes in dark, unsettling
psychological horror (he put himself on the map years ago with The Machinist, and Session 9)
dives into the popular coffin with Blood.
All the well-worn, familiar tropes are in the screenplay: Single mom? Check. Isolated country
house? Check. Addiction? Check. Weird, creepy landmark? Check. Animals acting strangely?
Check. Creepy basement? Check. However, Blood brings these elements together in an
engrossing and effective way, thanks to a strong cast and an able creative crew behind the
camera. The horror aspect of the story gets underway quickly and it keeps up the pace
Michelle Monaghan (The Path, Echoes) is Jessica, a caring but brittle nurse who’s recently
beaten drug addiction and has gone through a contentious divorce from Patrick (Skeet Ulrich,
Scream), who left her for the sexy young nanny. Jessica has regained partial custody of the kids,
teen Tyler (Skylar Morgan Jones) and younger Owen (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong), who are less
than thrilled about moving into the remote, rundown family farmhouse, recently inherited
following the demise of their maternal grandparents.
One gloomy day, while Tyler, Owen, and their yellow lab Pippin (a nod to the dog in Jaws) are
exploring the property, they happen upon a dead tree jutting from a muddy, nearly dry, lakebed.
It’s a creepy thing, all angles and darkness, and it seems to be calling to them… Pippin begins to
bristle and bark, then he runs at the tree, growling. He gets mired on his way, and Owen runs to
save him. But the kids and the pooch get separated and when Jessica gets home from work at the
hospital, she tells them not to worry; Pip will come back. Eventually, he does return, but he’s…
changed. Think: Old Yeller on steroids. The pooch viciously attacks Owen, nearly tearing the
boy’s throat out. The child is rushed to the hospital where, Jessica (too) quickly figures out,
Owen has become a vampire and needs human blood to survive.
There’s a lot of gore, some animal deaths (oh, and a person here and there), and some torture
that’s shudder-inducing and aided by oozy practical effects but Blood isn’t gratuitous—the
horror and violence serve to further the story, and to make you feel for the characters.
While the plot is pat and everything falls into place too easily, Blood is still a tense thriller that
will keep you watching from beginning to end. Monaghan sells the premise of a mom who will
do anything to help her child survive, even if it means she must ignore the Nightingale Pledge.
That’s not to say it’s an instant classic but Blood is well worth a watch.