There's a certain type of genre film that I am genuinely and instinctively drawn to. I think most of us who really enjoy "movies" are like that. We always have our fall-back. Sometimes we're in the mood to be scared. Once in a while we need a really good laugh. Perhaps there are times when you just gotta shed a tear. However, when you love film, and just can't really put your finger on what's in your gut; you have an old standby. Mine is in the darkness, the evil that man does, the shadows hiding behind the corners deep in the recesses of the human psyche. That preference is indeed painted with a broad stroke, but does (in fact) exist; and tickles my genre loving pickle each and every time. What endears a truly great genre film to me even further, is when the darkness inside somehow manages to escape. When the consequence on character becomes important and meaningful to the viewer. When things get personal and several people can watch the same film and draw wholly different conclusions as to what was just seen, heard, and felt. Written by Scooter Downey and Sean Elliot (who also stars) and Directed by Downey: IT'S IN THE BLOOD teased (very early in it's run time) the possibility of ticking every box I needed it to.
Lance Henriksen and Sean Elliot play father and son Russell and October respectfully. October is something of a prodigal son, returning home to reconnect with his "small town sheriff" dad. Both men are emotionally gutted, estranged from one another, and battling their own demons. Via a series of flashbacks, spaced out and structured meticulously through the film's duration, the viewer is privy to the events that led to the eventual geographic and emotional distance between the two. A drive out to the forest, an isolated opportunity to reconnect, and a tragically unfortunate accident involving Russell, his rifle, and a cliff; quickly pull the narrative into deeply sinister territory. As October puts his photographic memory to good use managing one disaster after another and Russell slips farther "away," their opportunity to reconcile becomes a serious struggle to survive. Not only are they physically hobbled (unable to make their way back to civilization), but they're also being hunted and haunted. Haunted by a past tragedy that still very much defines the voids within both men and hunted by a creature (of some kind) that literally would put a humiliating brown mark in ANY young man's UNDEROOS.
Let's get the formalities out of the way right now. IT'S IN THE BLOOD is a phenomenal film. The sound design is a wonderfully twisted marriage of the sublime, intimate, quiet, and terrifying. Sometimes you're not quite sure if you really heard what you thought you heard. There are moments where the horror on screen becomes so punctuated by the audio that it's almost unbearable in it's dread and glee. Downey has a control of the visual aesthetic that is genuinely uncanny. The setting, lighting, cuts, and transitions are so deeply connected to the emotional gravitas that the whole thing becomes a really overwhelming (in a very good way) experience. And then you have the five "players": Henriksen's RUSSELL, Elliot's OCTOBER, IRIS, MICHAEL, and THE MONSTER (You'll just have to wait and see what IRIS and MICHAEL's roles are AND become). Henriksen IS Russell: the lines on his embattled face, the low growl of his voice, the presence of an actor wise beyond even his years settled into a character that couldn't have been FELT by any other artist. Elliot (who seemingly co-wrote the film in his own blood and bile) IS October: distant, shattered, a young man refusing to release himself from horrors that are so traumatic they seem to run septic inside of him. If you don't get it by now, it can't be spelled out any more clearly: IT'S IN THE BLOOD truly is the "perfect genre storm." It's written, directed, acted, and structured with reverence and a palpable seriousness. It's downright moving in it's emotional weight and it's also frightening as Hell. It's frightening because it gives it's characters and it's viewer no escape. Just as Russell, October, Iris, Michael, and The Monster become some kind of grotesque and tragic mass of suffering; the viewer (because of all those involved here) becomes helpless in their fight to avoid suffering with them.
Director: Scooter Downey
Starring: Lance Henriksen and Sean Elliot