Monday, May 7, 2007

Bloodlines (2007)

Bloodlines (aka Stickville) is I Spit On Your Grave meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s a brutal and shocking film that relies on strong characters that we want to see survive.

In the backwoods of Kentucky, a family of inbreds is intent on keeping their family bloodline alive...they begin seeking out pretty women who can continue their heritage without the deformities that are a result of inbreeding. They kidnap women and force them to fight to the death to determine who is the strongest. The winner is then raped by the “man of the house,” Billy Bob (Jason Padgett), in hopes that she will get pregnant and give birth to the family’s future. When the family abducts Amber Strickland (Grace Johnston) after her car breaks down on a desolate stretch of road, they learn that they’ve messed with the wrong woman. Amber is smart and tough-as-nails, and soon her own vicious family comes looking for her…

Bloodlines is a nasty tale about a family of murderous, backwoods inbreds. Despite its familiar story, it manages to draw the viewer in with some excellent character development and brutal, hard-to-watch scenes. While the film does have its gore, it doesn’t rely on just that to entertain the audience. Instead, the film is brutal and hard-to-watch because of its excellent character development, which makes us care a great deal about the captive women, especially when they are being brutalized. Thankfully, this is not an exploitative film and the violence toward the women is never eroticized or “sexy.” No matter how terrorized by the inbred family the women are, though, (especially Amber’s character) the women always hold their own and fight back.

What I enjoyed most about this film were the female characters. The women aren’t all strong like Amber, but the each finds her strength by the end of the film. Amber, played by Grace Johnston, is a very well developed character and as the film progresses you keep caring more and more about her. She sticks up for those weaker than her, doesn’t back down, is loyal, is determined and is extremely gutsy! The villain of the piece, Billy Bob (Jason Padgett) is a vile piece of backwoods misogynistic trash, talking down to his sisters, violently abusing women, raping women and leading his family and friends to do very nasty things to the women they capture. There is no way anyone could empathize or support such a sick, sadistic piece of work like Billy Bob (at least, I sure as hell hope no one could relate to him!). Both Johnston and Padgett (as well as the rest of the cast) do a fantastic job at playing their characters.

Along with the character development, the story is also very well-developed. The pacing is quick and there are few moments to catch your breath. There is enough depth (and a few twists) to the story to make it interesting, but not too much that would otherwise bog the story down.

This is an independent film, but it looks surprisingly great. It was mostly filled in one location (the isolated cabin home of the inbred family), but it also utilizes some great scenes in the forest where the inbreds are hunted by Amber’s own family. The scenes within the cabin are appropriately claustrophobic, frightening and tense.

I only have a few complaints about the film, one of which is the climactic scene, which seems to drag on a bit too long. Also, there are so many women that Billy Bob and his family are holding – I think they should have stuck to the original three hostages that were first introduced.

Besides these minor quibbles, Bloodlines is a film with a story and characters that will have you glued to the screen. I highly recommend checking it out when it is released by THINKFilm, tentatively scheduled for July 31, 2007.

Available on Amazon!

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