Bloodlock, director William Schotten's attempt at a fresh take on the vampire genre, winds up being an ineffective muddle. Though obviously lacking in budget, the film is also deficient in inspiration and verve, and that makes for a hard slog of a viewing.
Husband and wife Chris (Ashley Gallo) and Barry (Domanic Koulianos) are just moving into their new home. Chris' half sister Lisa (Karen Fox) lives with them, and she and Barry have a somewhat more familiar relationship than would seem to be appropriate for in-laws. All three are intrigued when they discover a solid steel door in the basement sporting an enormous padlock that seems to have no keyhole, but Chris is positively obsessed. What's behind the door? Trying to push her suspicions of adultery aside, she goes about figuring out how to get the door open, even obtaining the assistance of local locksmith Luke (Gregg Biamonte). Meanwhile, the malicious neighbors Foster (Dirk Hermance) and Edwina (Debra Gordon) do their best to sneak into the basement and open the door themselves, for reasons shrouded in mystery.
Soon enough, the centuries old father of all vampires (Nick Foot) that is trapped therein is released, lots of people die, and Chris takes up with the very solicitous Luke. The pair goes about trying to hunt down the beast and kill it, if that is even possible. Betrayal, horror and adventure ensue as the vampire ineluctably increases his flock of bloodsuckers. Will Chris and Luke prevail? Or will they too be drawn into the corrupt brood of the undead? You'll have to watch the film to know.
The biggest problem with Bloodlock isn't the story, which is mediocre but not bad, and even has some interesting aspects. The biggest problem is the execution. Even though the budget was miniscule, Schotten mentions the figure of five thousand dollars a few times in the commentaries, the flair that often saves shoestring films is missing. Many of the actors are first timers or inexperienced, and it shows. The performances are for the most part merely tepid and muted, but there are a couple examples of simple ineptitude. Dirk Hermance as Foster delivers a particularly stilted and unconvincing turn, with a too expressive face and unnatural manner. Many moments that could have been infused with tension and dread, such as the teenage girl sitting on a swing in the park who is snatched up by the vampire, are instead lifeless and dull. Schotten eschews most of the standard horror techniques commonly used to gin up tension, not even indulging in cheap jump scares. An effective horror director can't be afraid to be exploitive, and this doesn't just refer to the blood and gore effects. Toying with emotions and setting up scares are part of the deal, even when done blatantly. It's expected and welcomed. Sound design, music and visual cheats are all useful, and none are used here.
The regrettable synth score fails to aid in any sense of dread. The effects are also bad, even by low budget standards. Apparently, the inside of a ripped up human throat consists of string, rubber bands and blood. The splatter is minimal, and often jarringly mixed with bad CG. And the vampire makeup is just white faces with poorly drawn on veins and jutting pointy teeth. The plot is awkwardly unfolded, with Foster and Luke at various times expounding the back story in a straightforward narrative. A number of intriguing plot threads are simply abandoned. The vampire targets the police, mayor and other positions of power in the town, but then simply uses them as drones to attack Chris and Luke. There's so much more he could have done! Because narrative tension and stakes have not been previously established, the denouement has little impact. Very much an "Oh, well" ending.
From the extra material provided, it seems that Schotten and his crew worked quite earnestly and hard to create a good movie out of the meager resources at hand. Unfortunately, no A for effort can be awarded here. Skip this one.
The video is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, and does have some issues. There is occasional graininess and posterization, but the biggest issue are the occasional digital effects: lines freezing for a few seconds, or small squares visible for a moment. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made about the quality of the final product.
The sound is presented in Dolby digital 2 channel, and works well with few issues. The dialogue is a bit muffled at moments, but there are no other problems apparent. No subtitles or alternate language tracks are available. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
There are a number of extras included. They are:
Behind the Scenes
At just around twenty five minutes, there's a decent amount of footage included here, but little of interest. Lots of Schotten, who's manning the camera for the most part, talking to his cast and crew, and giving them a hard time. A few looks at how effects were achieved, as well, and a lot of the wrap party. Nothing terribly exciting.
Bill Schotten directed, co-produced and edited the film, and he describes his work in this commentary. He can be moderately entertaining, and has a few interesting anecdotes. They had some real difficulty finding a locksmith who would let them film in his shop. The weather was cold and they had little money to work with. Only mildly engaging.
Cast & Crew Commentary
This commentary includes Ashley Gallo, Gregg Biamonte (actors), Arthur Collins the AD and effects guy, David Caleris the DP and Bill Schotten the director. These folks clearly like each other, and enjoyed making the film. They made a lot of sacrifices, working in cold and sometimes odorous locations, to get it made. This commentary is somewhat more interesting than Schotten's solo effort.
This is about what you would expect, three minutes of photos, mostly showing makeup application and behind the scenes.
Trailers are included for Bloodlock itself, God of Vampires, Mother's Day Massacre and Vampegeddon.
Please remember that this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quantity or quality of the final product.
William Schotten and his team without doubt put a lot of effort and toil into the production of Bloodlock. And they enjoyed themselves while they did it. However, this passion does not translate to the screen, and the film ends up as a limp, ineffective muddle. No tension is generated or maintained, no true scares are present and the viewer never cares one way or the other about whether the characters live or die. This one's not worth your time.