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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.

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Seann William Scott: The Dark Side of Life

Bloodline is the latest film from Blumhouse, the home of The Conjuring Franchise and The Invisible Man. A tale of family and bloodletting, we chewed the fat with its start, Seann William Scott, to talk all things murderous.
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Short Film of the Day: Here There Be Monsters

Drew Macdonald's lyrical horror short was made through Screen Queensland’s SCREAM QUEENSLAND initiative and played at 50+ festivals around the world including FlickerFest, Stellar, Sitges, Hollyshorts, Screamfest and many more and has won multiple awards along the way including Best Australian Film at Brisbane International Film Festival and Best Editing at St Kilda. Creature effects by Steve Boyle FX.
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Come to Daddy

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You’ve got to hand it to Elijah Wood, the bloke really loves being involved with weird-as-shit genre films. After playing Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s blockbuster Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003), he could have so easily taken the safe route, and become a family friendly household name. Instead, Wood opted for major roles in films like the deeply underrated Maniac remake (2012), Grand Piano (2013) and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017), not to mention producing a slew of bizarre, violent flicks like The Greasy Strangler (2016), Mandy (2017) and Daniel Isn’t Real (2019). Point is, if Elijah Wood has lent his acting or behind-the-scenes talent to a genre project, there’s a better-than-average chance it’s well worth a look. And Come to Daddy is certainly no exception.

Come to Daddy tells the story of affable sad sack Norval Greenwood (Elijah Wood), who has received a letter from his estranged father, asking Norval to come and visit him. With a mixture of trepidation and confusion, Norval heads to a spectacular but secluded house overlooking a lake and meets his bizarre, oddly hostile daddy, played to malevolent perfection by Stephen McHattie. Except, as their time together becomes increasingly bizarre, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems and Come to Daddy takes a dramatic left turn into bizarre and twisted bullfuckery, which would be a deadset crime to spoil, but needless to say – shit gets weird, friends.

New Zealand director Ant Timpson [genre film tastemaker, and producer of Turbo Kid, The ABCs of Death, The Greasy Strangler], making his feature film debut at the tender age of 53, brings what is clearly a lifetime of genre film enthusiasm to Come to Daddy and the result is a bizarre belter of a flick. Buoyed by a typically excellent performance from Elijah Wood (whose haircut alone is worth the price of admission) and stunning support from McHattie, Martin Donovan and Michael Smiley, Come to Daddy is the kind of movie best experienced knowing as little as possible beforehand. But make no mistake, this is a film well worth seeing, for freaks, the freak adjacent and for fans of films unafraid to take some risks and blow the bloody doors off.

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Aiyai: Wrathful Soul

Australian, Horror, Review, Theatrical, This Week Leave a Comment

Crematoriums are inherently creepy. It doesn’t get much more morbid than a joint that literally exists to burn corpses down to ash, and yet there are relatively few genre films that have capitalised on this. Aiyai: Wrathful Soul, the debut feature from director Ilanthirayan Alan Arumugam, seeks to address this omission to mixed results.

Aiyai tells the tale of Kiran (Kabir Singh), an Indian student living in Australia. After losing his previous job in a kitchen in the opening minutes, Kiran takes a gig at a creepy crematorium, staffed solely, it seems, by weirdos. However, it soon becomes clear that there’s more than just eerie Aussies to be concerned about and Kiran begins to experience shenanigans of a supernatural nature, including, but not limited to, seemingly possessed ash, weird visitations, furniture that moves by itself and eventual spiritual takeover. It’s a lot, and one certainly can’t fault the look and ambition of the film, which boasts surprisingly slick visuals and impressive production values.

On the downside, the script is a bit of a mess, playing fast and loose with horror cliches and never quite settling into a groove. It’s fitfully entertaining, and a couple of sequences really look the business, but the rules and character motivations are frequently frustratingly opaque. Performances, too, are a bit rough around the edges, with Kabir Singh coming off a little too stiff to be an effective leading man. Tahlia Jade Holt fares a little better as girlfriend Sara, although her continued resistance to seeking help for her red-eyed, gurning, blood covered bae becomes a tad inexplicable as the film wears on.

Aiyai: Wrathful Soul is a gorgeous-looking film in search of a better script. It certainly has some effective moments, and some very silly ones, but doesn’t quite hang together. Still, fans of low budget Aussie horror will probably find something to love in this awkward, occasionally endearing, tale of ashy revenge from beyond the grave.