blood beat | fabrice-ange zaphiratos | helen benton | dana day | james fitzgibbons | slasher | samurai | christmas | united states | terry brown | claudia peyton | peter spelson | franck miley | carol wagner | charlie white | andrea cauchon | bill madlener | mark johnson
Film: Blood Beat
Director: Fabrice-Ange Zaphiratos
Writer: Fabrice-Ange Zaphiratos
Starring: Helen Benton, Dana Day and James Fitzgibbons
Now this is a movie that I didn’t know about until I got into horror movie podcasts. When I was going down my list looking for ones that were Christmas horror, I figured out that this one technically is. I’ll get into why that is loosely once I’m breaking the movie down. Aside from that, I did read the synopsis and thought it sounded wild. That synopsis is a young woman goes with her boyfriend to his family’s rural Wisconsin home for Christmas, where the spirit of a Japanese samurai beings wreaking havoc on them.
For this movie, we start with Gary (Terry Brown) hunting out in the woods. He is decked out in all camouflage and hunting with a bow. He does get a deer that he takes home to clean. He lives with his girlfriend of Cathy (Helen Benton). Now, he wants to marry her, but she doesn’t want to remarry. This causes tension between them.
Her children then show up to spend Christmas with them. Her daughter is Dolly (Dana Day) and her son is Ted (James Fitzgibbons). Ted has also brought his girlfriend, Sarah (Claudia Peyton). There is uneasiness between Cathy and her that they both feel. Cathy believes that she knows her but isn’t sure how. Ted gets her settled into a guest room, which was apparently rented by a doctor some time ago and has been vacant since. He tries to get fresh with Sarah, but she feels that his mother will walk in on them.
It should be pointed out here that Cathy is psychic. She does know what they’re doing but doesn’t stop it. She is concerned though. Cathy is also a painter and most of her work comes from her going into trances.
Things then take a turn when Uncle Pete (Peter Spelson) comes over. He wants to go hunting. He is joined by Gary, Dolly, Ted and Sarah. As they’re all lining up shots, Sarah freaks out and scares the deer away. She flees alone into the woods and Ted chases after her. They find a hunter in the woods that was attacked. Sarah is spooked and is taken back home. She tries to go to bed, but the problem is that she has a vivid dream about finding samurai armor in a chest and cuts her finger on a katana that is also in there. She falls out of bed and Ted checks on her. He’s confused as there is no chest in the room and thinks she was dreaming.
Cathy knows something is up. Sarah goes into trances and we see as this samurai armor comes to life, killing those in the area. It is heading for this house. Is this really happening though or is there something supernatural going on?
That is going to be where I’ll leave my recap. Where I’m going to start is saying this is a weird movie, if you haven’t picked up from the synopsis and what I’ve relayed here. I was quite confused when it ends as to what the point of it was and where it is going. I’m not saying I hated it, but I was left confused and with a lot of questions.
The character of Sarah is where I’m going to start. Ted says that they’re friends, but we see there is more there. He invited her to this Christmas at his family’s place. She doesn’t like the experience of going hunting. Part of it is that she is getting flashes of things in the woods and it bothers her. She doesn’t want to see the deer be killed, which is fine. We see that she also has psychic powers, much like Cathy. I’m on board for her being ‘cursed’ by the samurai armor when she cuts her finger. That makes sense to things I’ve seen where blood gets on a cursed item, so it transfers. I don’t have a problem there. What confuses me though was, why samurai armor and a katana? Before getting into that, I thought that Peyton was fine in her performance of the character.
Before getting back to that question, I’ll go to Cathy. It feels like a few times we were going to see what some of these flashes that she was getting where. We see this little girl, Andrea Cauchon, a few different times as well. There is a picture in the room with Sarah. We see her with the katana as a child. I wasn’t sure if that was going to be Cathy as a girl, her sister or her child. We know that when we see this girl, it is in the past or a dream due to the fuzzy focus. It feels like this could be easily explained, but its not. Cathy makes a statement to the samurai that she knows it has been coming for some time. A little line or some information here could have fixed this for me and helped me to enjoy it more. Like did this samurai stuff or whomever it belonged to originally then kill the girl? Or as I said, was the girl Cathy and it is this feeling she’s been having of it coming for her? Much like with Sarah, I thought that Benton was fine as this odd mother with psychic powers.
To then get to my question, it feels like the samurai stuff was used due to someone owning it. They couldn’t think of what to make the killer wear, knew they had this and decided to write this outrageous slasher. Having a samurai in Wisconsin around Christmas is fun. Having the two psychics being at the center of the story works as well, the problem that I have though is that it doesn’t come together. We are missing that glue. There was a moment where I thought we would get it, like the samurai was the deceased father or this vengeful spirit killed the little girl. Something here is better than what we got for me.
I’ve already talked about two of our actors, so I’ll go over the rest briefly. Brown is fine as Gary. The same could be said for Day and Fitzgibbons. None of the acting was good, but it was fine for a movie like this. I’d go as far to say that the lack of a coherent story is probably why we don’t get these characters fleshed out as well. I’ll even give credit to the person in the samurai suit. They move as they should from what I know about the traditions there. I do believe in the trivia it tells that it is the director/writer, Fabrice-Ange Zaphiratos. This would make sense as well.
So, then the last things to go into would be the effects, cinematography and the soundtrack. For the former, we go a bit light there which bothers me when it comes to a slasher film. The blood and gore we do get was fine. I think it has good color and was done practical which is good. There are some cheesy effects when it comes to using psychic powers. That did make me laugh if I’m honest with its absurdity. The cinematography is fine. We get some good point of view for our killer which is popular for this subgenre. The soundtrack is also interesting. We get heavy breathing a lot. There is quite a bit of classic music used, which at times worked and other times didn’t. We also get some music that sounds like beating heart. That helps to drive tension. Not all the music worked and some of the sound effects are a bit cheesy as well.
In conclusion here, this movie has potential that wasn’t realized for me. I don’t mind the two psychics and the cursed armor coming into play. I just feel there needed to something to explain why. The acting is okay. The effects are about the same, we just don’t get a lot of them. Cinematography works as well. What is also interesting is that the soundtrack works at times and others it comes off as cheesy. It just feels a bit off and with some minor tweaks, I think this would be a hidden gem for other than the craziness of it overall.
My Rating: 5.5 out of 10