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.
Behind the Scenes
Cast & Crew Commentary
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.