Nazi sisters, lesbians, zombies, murders in the desert: indie horror film Blood Soaked seems like it has everything. It's a pretty fun ride, and has some very cool imagery, but is a little uneven at times.
Katie and Sadie (Hayley Derryberry and Laina Grendle) are two sisters who live in the desert in a bunker ever since their neo-Nazi father passed away. They spend their time torturing and killing anyone unlucky enough to fall into their clutches, and turning them into zombies with a mysterious serum.
Piper and Ashley (Heather Wilder and Rachel Corona) are two young college girls who have just begun a lesbian relationship. Unluckily, at almost the same time, they cross path with the two Nazi sisters. An unfortunate incident with a rabbit forces them to pull off the side of the road, and soon they're in a game of chicken with Katie and Sadie. Things go downhill from there.
One reason that Blood Soaked works as well as it does is the dramatic and evocative visual style conjured up by writer / director Peter Grendle. The film shifts from black and white, to color, and back to black and white, with the sections of blood and violence lushly presented in B&W, with its thick shadows and contrasts. Grendle also presents a few striking images, and takes time now and again to let the movie just look cool. This is even more impressive given the film's short running time of only 72 minutes.
This is not to say that Blood Soaked is perfect. It has some flaws, mostly with coherence. There isn't much to the story, and not an enormous amount of character development. But the filmmakers certainly do deliver on what's promised with the title. The biggest issue with the film is with the sound quality, but I'll discuss that in the "Sound" section of the review.
The performances are mostly pretty good, and enthusiastic throughout, especially the ever jubilant genre favorite Derryberry, who is almost giddy in her role as the more girlish of the two Nazi sisters.
Overall, though the story doesn't really cohere or go anywhere, Blood Soaked is a success, in that it achieves the goal it was aiming for. As I've said elsewhere, coherence and logic aren't necessarily vitally important in horror films. Movies are an experiential medium, horror films doubly so, and as long as things make sense in the moment it's not terribly important if everything hangs together upon further reflection. Blood Soaked makes sense as you watch, whether or not any logic can be divined as a whole. But it looks cool, has action, blood, sudden unexpected murder, and good looking people splattered with gore. Genre folks are going to get a kick out of it. Recommended.
The video is 1.78:1 widescreen, and while it does generally look good, there are issues, specifically mild aliasing throughout, and some posterization from time to time. Neither of these detracts significantly from the viewing experience.
The audio is Dolby digital 2 channel, and is not great. This is the biggest issue with the film. The dialogue is muffled, requiring the volume to be turned up higher than should be necessary. One can make out what the characters are saying, but it takes effort, and it shouldn't. Sometimes it seems that the music has been mixed in too loud, which also causes difficulty with the dialogue. No subtitles are included, which exacerbates the problem. This doesn't ruin the experience, but I had to work to hear.
There are a lot of extras included on the disc, including the original short film upon which Blood Soaked was based, a cool reverse action trailer, a "drunk introduction" from stars Heather Wilder and Laina Grendle, and an audio track from a showing of the film at the PollyGrind Film Festival, so that you can hear audience reactions. The biggest extras, though, are the two commentaries, one with Peter Grendle and Tyler King, his cinematographer and editor, and the other with actors Laina Grendle and Heather Wilder. These are both interesting, but Peter and Tyler are much more about technical details, notable sound and visual effects, and how they snagged locations. Laina and Heather are more conversational, and talk more about performances and the interactions between actors and crew, as well as some amusing anecdotes.
There is a lot of material here, but it's mostly in digestible pieces, and the viewer can pick and choose what they want to hear and see.
Blood Soaked isn't perfect, and has some technical flaws, the audio mainly, that detract from the experience, but as a piece of horror cinema it's enjoyable and quite well made for the budget I'm sure they were working with. There's a lot to like, and very little to hate. Horror fans should check it out.