It’s in the Blood (2012)
The first film I watched at this year’s Texas Frightmare Weekend 2012 was one I heard absolutely nothing about: IT’S IN THE BLOOD. The film has a very small main cast, is filmed in isolated and remote areas, and often times has a very hallucinatory feel to it. IT’S IN THE BLOOD is an indie horror film that transcends the genre and ends up being a lot more than what it starts out as.
IT’S IN THE BLOOD is about a father, Russell (horror icon Lance Henriksen), and his son, October (Sean Elliot, who also co-wrote and co-produced) who’re trying to reconnect after not seeing each other for years. A terrible trauma both binds them together and pushes them apart and it’s this horrific event in their pasts that they’re trying to move beyond. They go out into the wilderness to hunt and try to bond and Russell ends up injuring himself bad (real bad) in what might be one of the worst compound fractures ever put on film. With limited mobility and absolutely no supplies, the two are completely at the mercy of the elements, and just when they thought things couldn’t get any worse they realize some kind of creature is stalking them down with the intention of killing them. From the few distant and blurry images we get in the beginning it’s obvious this is not your typical woodland predator after them. This thing is big, intelligent, and fierce as hell.
The film unfolds with the father and son having to come together to survive, all the while trying to figure out what the creature is and what it wants. At the same time, Russell’s compound fracture is getting worse (make that, disgusting), and October’s recurring nightmares about his past trauma, which includes the girl he loved, Iris (Rose Sirna), start bleeding into his waking state. This is most definitely a “slow burn” flick and director/co-writer Scooter Downey does a really nice job controlling the material here. We get scenes that go from the ‘real time’ in the film to flashbacks of the horrific event that changed all their lives, to hallucinatory scenes of the creature. In lesser skilled hands, IT’S IN THE BLOOD could’ve been a muddled mess, but Downey masterfully controls all the various elements like a well-seasoned pro. The film is also shot beautifully, really embracing the dark and the isolation of the situation, and the editing is phenomenal. The dark and isolation become imposing characters themselves as they threaten and consume Russell and October. Downey’s style here reminds me a lot of Lucky McKee’s style in THE WOMAN (my review here). There’s a noticeable lack of a soundtrack in the first half of the film and he builds the story in a slow yet deliberate manner where you feel the tension building as if you were inside a pressure cooker. Downey does a fantastic job here.
As great as the direction of the film is, it’s the acting from Henriksen and Elliot that really make this film. You all know that I’m a huge fan of Henriksen’s. He’s an iconic genre actor that’s been in some of horror’s best films. His performance in NEAR DARK still sends shivers up and down my spine. But lately I’ve been seeing him popping up in more and more B-movies. Hey look, everyone needs to pay the bills and I’m just glad to see Henriksen still working. But his performance in IT’S IN THE BLOOD will remind you why you fell in love with this man in the first place. He’s absolutely amazing here in the range he plays and the depth of his performance. He is the sheriff in this small, very rural town who lost his wife and had to raise his son alone (and who also adopted a young girl and raised her as his own daughter). He’s a tough old man who fiercely guards his emotions and feelings and rarely lets anyone “in.” He’s also a heavy drinker who hates where his life has taken him and who still can’t get beyond the tragedy that destroyed he and his family’s lives. But beneath it all, Henriksen’s Russell loves nothing more in life than his son and is trying to find the way to reconnect with him and get them to both overcome their pasts. And if you’ve ever wondered what Henriksen would sound like imitating a woman having an orgasm, IT’S IN THE BLOOD will settle that for ya!!
Sean Elliot is perfect in this role as Henriksen’s troubled son. Elliot’s October is a highly intelligent guy with a photographic memory who essentially stopped living after that traumatic event in the woods that fateful day. With both Elliot and Henriksen we get believable characters who do realistic things and react in realistic ways to the events they find themselves in. The writing is excellent and the execution is pitch-perfect. I know this isn’t usually the kind of film I rave about, but when there’s so few elements in a film, it only takes one small screw up to ruin everything. The cast and crew in IT’S IN THE BLOOD came together and executed on a very high level and made something truly fantastic. My only complaint is that the ending of the film got a little redundant. The film ends but we get more. It almost felt like Downey wanted to make sure we “got it.”
I’m not gonna talk about the creature or the traumatic event in any detail. This is a film I want you to experience in the same way I experienced it … without knowing a damn thing about it. But be warned; besides one of the most hideous leg injuries ever put on film (my leg aches just thinking about it), there’s really not too much gore in this film. There are, thought, some really disturbing images that’ll satisfy the horror crowd. Some may argue that IT’S IN THE BLOOD isn’t even a horror film. I label it a horror-psychological drama. It takes it’s time developing all the characters and themes here, but the entire time you can feel it building up in intensity. This is a really great film. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but those of you that connect with it will have a really great experience. Check this one out!!
Director: Scooter Downey (& co-writer with Sean Elliot)
Plot: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 4 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer at the Texas Frightmare Weekend 2012