Given the generally dismal quality of Lions Gate's direct-to-video horror films, one could be forgiven for intentionally bypassing a title like Bloodline. Perhaps I'm only rating this flick in comparison to most of its LG brethren, but it's actually not half bad!
The story opens with a sequence you've seen 1,000 times before: a campground massacre from which only two brothers escape. OK, so far, so familiar.
The deformed, mute, and mildly retarded brother (Henry) disappears into the woods, while the "normal" brother (Travis) gets to return home and deal with all the "survivor guilt." Obviously we (the audience) are meant to assume that Henry did the killin' and Travis was the hero. But then that supposition gets flip-flopped, and reversed again -- and before you know it, you're actually caught up in this dinky little no-budget horror flick.
Some well-earned praise goes to co-creators Keith Coulouris & David Schrader for A) not going the same ol' hack & slash route, B) trying to dress their shifty little shocker with some actual narrative meat on its bones, and C) doling out the jolts and the gore in generous fashion without ever letting them overpower the story.
Frankly there's so many ways the directors could have strayed off-track and delivered yet another worthless piece of Homemade Horror, but the guys seem to like the screenplay they put together, and they seem fully intent on sticking to the thing. Aside from a few dry spots in Act II and a trippy epilogue that runs on a bit too long, Bloodline is a fairly efficient little time-waster.
Even the acting is better than what you'd normally find in this sort of flick, and a few strong performances, combined with a quietly compelling story, some nasty dispatches, and one or two worthwhile twists, really help to elevate a project like this from "ugh, turn it off," to "hey, this ain't the crap-heap I was expecting!"
One suspects that with a little more time and a lot more money, Coulouris & Schrader could hit the horror scene and make a pretty big splash. Bloodline certainly works in a "calling card" fashion, and it should prove just entertaining enough to grab the attention of the hardcore horror fans.
Video: The mega-low-budget affair is presented in a pretty decent widescreen (1.78:1) format.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0, with optional subtitles in English and Spanish.
Extras: You'll get a feature-length audio commentary with the directors, an 8-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, a photo gallery, and a handful of trailers for Bloodline, The Mangler Reborn, Heebie Jeebies, Ghetto Dawg 2: Out of the Pits, War of the Planets, and Dark Harvest 2: The Maize.
Lions Gate seems more than happy to unleash torrents of reallllllly bad low-budget horror flicks these days, but Bloodline wore down my skepticism after about 20 minutes. While it's certainly nothing brilliant or revolutionary, it's entirely watchable, admirably un-stupid, and occasionally, stunningly, pretty darn engrossing, too.