A Thousand Words: Bloodline Movie Review

Written by Steve Pattee

You know I would do anything to protect you...to keep you safe. Anything.
– Ian

Written and directed by Justin Lewis and Jerod Brennen
2007, 26 minutes, Not rated

Louie Cowan as Ian
Jason Morris as Steven
Bryan Arnold as Jack
Suzanne Camilli as Jennifer
Hannah Wegmann as Anne
Todd Marquis as Shaun


Young Steven is a budding amateur photographer. Dorky, introverted and a little strange, Steven has been warned on more than one occasion to stay away from Jack's girlfriend, Jennifer.

Being the jealous high-school football player he is, his reaction to beat Steven's ass when he catches him taking a picture of his girlfriend is natural.

But while Dick and his Cro-Magnon friend think Steven is creepy, they have know idea the really small the distance the apple falls from the tree in Steven's family.

Because Ian, Steven's father, is not just creepy, he's frightening. And very protective.

After Jack and his boy pummel Steven for the last time, Daddy decides to pay those mean kids a visit and set them straight. For good.

Short movies are a tough breed to master. You can get the spectacular — like Oculus or most any given Tales from the Crypt episode. You can get the pretty damn bad — like a few of the Masters of Horror episodes. And you can get the mediocre — like A Thousand Words: Bloodline.

Bloodline's biggest problem, by far, is its story. There's no hook. It's a by-the-numbers story, with stereotypical characters and a predictable ending. One of the things that made Oculus so damn good was its story. What made many Tales from the Crypt episodes so damn good were their stories. But, here, there's nothing new. Nothing gripping. Nothing shocking. And when you are a low-budget filmmaker, this is inexcusable, as you already have the odds stacked against you. It's hard enough to get people to sit through an indie horror movie, and when you don't offer anything new, they'd rather sit through a million-dollar mediocre movie than a thousand-dollar one.

Another thing that hurt the film is some of the scenes are poorly executed. In one scene, one of Jennifer's friends is getting hacked up in front of her. She is right by the door watching. Right. By. The. Door. So when does she make a break for it? After the killer gets more-than-a-few licks in on her friend, and looks up at Jennifer. And, goddammit, do we really need the person coming up from the back seat of the car? Does this scare anyone anymore? It's predictable as hell and doesn't work. No, it didn't work in the big budget TCM: The Beginning, either. But while the scare sucks in Beginning, too, that movie can get away with more. Why? Budget. It has better gore, better shots and better actors.

That's not to say the acting is bad in Bloodline. It's actually quite capable across the board. Jason Morris, who plays Steven, is effectively creepy, while Suzanne Camilli, as Jennifer, is believable as the girl of his affections.

The gore (and sometimes lack of), too, is effective. As much as the weaker scenes in the short pissed me off, I have to applaud directors Justin Lewis and Jerod Brennen for the edit. Lewis and Brennen did a damn decent job showing what they had and hiding what they didn't. Many times, low-budget films will go overboard, attempting to show every effects shot, regardless of how it looks. And, many times, they hurt their films because the effects aren't that good. But Bloodline only shows the effective scenes, and is smart enough to let the audience's imagination decipher what the filmmakers couldn't afford to do. One particular scene—the aforementioned scene where Jennifer is watching her friend get hacked—is one of the most uncomfortable in the film's short running time. And you don't see a damn thing.

Bloodline's pace also benefits from its edit. Even at a short 26 minutes, the film moves along just fine. It doesn't get dull, even in its predictability. Something should be said for that.

Ironically, because of its same-old-same-old story, A Thousand Words: Bloodline would be a much better feature-length film because it would give the filmmakers a chance to delve into Ian and Steven's life a little more. As well as upping the body count. But, as it is right now, it's "been there, seen that."


Movie: 2.5 Star Rating Cover

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