Evan (Seann William Scott) is a school counsellor, specialising in at risk teens. An upfront montage highlights the frustration and rigid routine of his job. He reaches out to his students, but they, for various reasons, can’t quite accept help. Believing that their parents lie at the heart of their problems, Evan does what any good counsellor would do and – checks notes – kills them in the dead of night.
He may have a different name and career, but Bloodline’s protagonist is essentially Dexter, the role made famous by Michael C Hall in Showtime’s hit series. Evan researches his victim’s crimes, kidnaps them and gets them to figuratively spill their guts before he literally does. At home, Evan’s wife Lauren (Mariela Garriga) is none the wiser and doesn’t question Evan’s night-time disappearances too much; just so long as he helps look after their newborn son.
Writer and director Henry Jacobson shakes things up for our sympathetic killer in the shape of Evan’s mother, Marie (Dale Dickey). Marie appears to have a strong hold over her son and is not against ignoring her daughter in law’s requests. It’s this three way dynamic that gives the film its dramatic conflict. Sort of.
Bloodline is a De Palma-esque thriller that is visually stunning to say the least; all split screens and red and blue lighting. Jacobson and his team have certainly pulled out all the stops to make a confronting and, at times, beautifully violent film. It’s just gorgeous enough to forgive the wheel spinning that comes in the second half of the film.
With Evan’s extracurricular activities looking like they’re about to be exposed, there’s never a suitable amount of tension. Additionally, whilst Marie and Lauren clearly don’t like each other, for the most part it doesn’t really go anywhere. That is until a last minute twist is all but signposted by Marie in the final sprint to the end. It’s a bit like fast food really. The ending satisfies to some extent, but you’ll likely be wanting something more.
That said, aside from its visuals and camera tricks, Bloodline does serve up a great performance by Scott. Channelling his inner Patrick Bateman – albeit a lower middle class version – the actor convincingly looks like he wants to care for you or stab you in the belly with zero remorse. Coupled with a gripping turn by Dickey, his performance suggests that everything could have worked out for Norman Bates if he just talked about his feelings once in a while.
Wearing its influences on its sleeve, Bloodline is an entertaining 90 minutes that doesn’t outstay its welcome and is a strong feature length debut for its director.