We are in a new era of horror. One in which stories are being told that revolve around the mistreatment of basically every group besides white males. From Revenge to Get Out, these are stories that need to be told, and it’s about time we’re seeing them begin to flood the screens. Blood Craft is just the latest, with mixed results…
…A supernatural torture porn film with a feminist bend, Blood Craft is directed by James Cullen Bressack (Penicious) and written by Bressack and star Madeleine Wade. The film tells the story of Grace (Wade), a woman who goes back home after the death of her father, where she finds the sister that she once shared a close bond with, Serena (Augie Duke). Together, the two decide that the death of their abusive father is not enough, and that he must pay for what he did to them. So, they do the natural thing and bring him back from the dead for a night of torture and revenge, best served bloody.
Blood Craft is, at face value, a fantastic concept. This film is jam-packed with challenging themes which take a close look at the idea that abuse inevitably leads to more abuse. When we first meet Grace, we find a person who is struggling with her identity. On the outside, she is a confident, kind woman, the sort who stops to help a homeless person. But on the inside, she is a broken, tortured soul fighting to maintain her sanity in the face of her job as a stripper, where she is constantly barraged by men who see her as nothing but a sex toy. This is the person, as we learn, shaped by the untimely death of her mother and the physical/sexually abusive upbringing with her father.
What the film does so well throughout is establish Grace and Serena as being bonded by more than just blood. As we see in flashbacks to time spent with their mother, Hilde (Dominique Swain), she instills the idea in their heads that together, the sisters are at their strongest. Of course, this isn’t just applying to the sisters, but to women in general, and the knowledge that alone, a woman is vulnerable, but by standing together, they can conquer the evil of men. Blood Craft consistently demonstrates strong feminist ideals, and is invigorating in the satisfactory justice it delivers once the women finally unleash the anger that’s been pent up in them all these years.
There is never any doubt that Blood Craft is an expression of the depraved side of men, and the terror in which they can wreak on a woman’s life. Early on, while Grace is at the club, we see a montage of men telling her to do things like spread her ass, touch herself, you know, the unfortunate usual. The men in Blood Craft are disgusting and completely irredeemable, and so it’s a joy to watch them get what’s coming to them, and what they receive is painful to say the least. There is no mistaking what Bressack’s film is trying to say. The dialogue is extremely on the nose and lacking any subtlety, which isn’t great, but is still effective.
Blood Craft isn’t all blackness and gore-soaked roses though. Ignoring the fact that the film takes sixty-five minutes to get to the actual meat of the plot-resurrecting the dead father-Bressack and Wade’s script stumbles in the middle, occasionally undercutting its own messaging. For one, the film defines the characters by their abuse and sexuality rather than just making it a part of who they are. In fact, it seems to revel in it, constantly cutting back to scenes of the father whipping the girls or sexually assaulting them, while also not furthering the story. And speaking of pointless character moments, how about a throw-away scene with some incestual sister loving, where Grace and Serena decide they actually liked being forced to feel each other up. Seems a little counterintuitive to what the film is trying to say about abuse, no? Because what serious film about rape doesn’t need sister loving?
The film also tries to make the father seem sympathetic, which is a HUGE mistake. As the torture goes on, he again and again blames his father for why he did what he did, even forcing a tear or two. Serena is having none of it, but it occasionally seems as if Grace is buying it. Count me as one who refuses to feel sympathetic for a child rapist, especially when the film chooses to show him conduct some horribly graphic use of a hanger. Blood Craft is a film that feels pulled by two different sides, one that wants to tell a strong story of female empowerment, and another that wants to fetishize their torment. The two don’t go hand in hand, causing Blood Craft to feel disjointed and confused.
That being said, Bressack brings an unforgettable vision to the film. Blood Craft never quite seems connected to reality, flowing more like a long nightmare, with a ton of well-crafted imagery and violence. So even though the violence itself sometimes hurts the narrative, the scenes themselves are never not effective. This is a gut-wrenching film that doesn’t always satisfy, but consistently succeeds at twisting the knife in your guts. Bressack’s film is relentless in its darkness, and will certainly please some horror fans in that regard.
Complete with a shocking twist that will leave your jaw agape, Blood Craft is a nasty little film about two women shattering the chains that have been put on them by men in the bloodiest way possible. Bressack’s film suffers from an imbalance of themes and some clunky plotting, but Blood Craft casts a spell of discomforting strangeness that you can’t help but look at, even at its most depraved.
Blood Craft releases on VOD from Vertical Entertainment on April 9th.
By Matt Konopka