Blood Conscious is a low-key horror charmer that mostly succeeds on the strength of its clever manipulations.
Blood Conscious, the debut feature from writer-director-editor Timothy Covell, starts on a note of ripped-from-the-headlines horror, as siblings Kevin (Oghenero Gbaje) and Brittney (DeShawn White) — accompanied by fiancée Tony (Lenny Thomas) — arrive at a lakeside resort only to discover that all of its guests, including their parents, have been murdered by a crazed shooter (Nick Damici). Claiming that the individuals were possessed by demons, the gunman holds the trio hostage, setting off a chain of events in which the line between paranoia and pure madness becomes dangerously blurred. And so, for its first half, Blood Conscious is a tale of survival, as our three protagonists desperately try to gain the upper hand against their seemingly deranged assailant. But with the arrival of a stranger at the film’s mid-point — a middle-aged woman named Margie (Lori Hammel), suffering from the apparent effects of PTSD — the film evolves into something else entirely, a modern-day riff on The Thing wherein the very humanity of each of the characters is called into question.
To that point, it’s precisely these various twists and turns of the script that make Blood Conscious such a compelling watch, even as the technical specs fail to deliver. The film is obviously a low-budget affair, yet that doesn’t exactly excuse the atrocious dialogue or the subpar performances — save for Damici, that is, who, as always, is a welcome presence. A majority of the film takes place in horribly underlit locations where it’s near impossible to tell what action is transpiring, a detail which could conceivably be used to create tension but instead here only breeds frustration. The score, courtesy of Sam Tyndall and Akari Uchiyama, is appropriately charged, fraught with dissonant strings and prolonged wails, although, as that description fairly explicates, it’s certainly nothing unusual or ambitious for the genre. But as easy as it is to find fault with the film’s small-scale constraints, there’s something about its plucky, DIY spirit that proves fairly infectious. It would be easy to imagine a Hollywood remake that irons out these wrinkles, sure, but that would also remove the homespun charm that’s inherent within. Blood Conscious is no threat to become a genre classic, but taken on its own terms, there’s plenty enough for horror fans to enjoy in the film’s clever manipulations.
Published as part of Before We Vanish | August 2021.