Words: Paul Dean
I am all for faux documentaries and I think I fell a little bit in love with them when 'The Blair Witch Project' managed (fairly successfully, I thought) to marry the unlikely partners that are horror and credibility, creating something whose simplicity made it all the more visceral and unpleasant. Its stoic refusal to admit that it was a work of fiction only heightened its profile further and a good many filmmakers have since been inspired to attempt similar tricks, only to find that the moviegoers are all the more savvy now.
This is a difficult genre to pull off and I've been disappointed on more than a few occasions, not least because many directors confuse low production values and authenticity and, in trying to look cheap, end up *being* cheap. 'Blooded' somewhat sidesteps this issue by posing as a reconstruction, interleaved with occasional edits of "real" footage and led throughout by the narration of the victims of the events that it returns to.
Rather smartly, it uses actors playing actors in the reconstruction (bear with me here), while those interviewed post-disaster are merely actors playing the victims, so the reconstruction footage is given further credibility by not featuring those interviewed. I should probably mention that the disaster itself is the story of a group of pro-hunting campaigners who, while shooting in Scotland, are hunted in their underwear on a hill by radical animal rights campaigners.
Unfortunately, 'Blooded' fails to be as horrific or as tense as its opening montage promises and this is in no small part due to a constant narration (by the victim-actors, who are better than the actor-actors, by the way) that almost borders on commentary. Every sixty seconds someone pops up to tell you how they were feeling and what they were doing while they panted in their pants and dashed about trying not to get killed by men in balaclavas.
"You're two normal blokes in an awful situation", says one, almost casually, and that's about as passionate as they get. Displays of genuine emotion are lacking and the pacing is terribly harmed by this style of storytelling. This is a shame, because on several occasions it nearly pulls off being either a decent film or a decent documentary.
It ends up falling between stools and this is perhaps its biggest problem. Its occasional blasts of a (very good) sweeping soundtrack and some impressive cinematography and you start to wonder if 'Blooded' has simply given up on trying to pretend to be a reconstruction and wants to be all-out survival horror.
The most striking moment of the film ends up being neither the hunting nor the cruelty of people to one another, but instead the casual, offhand disemboweling and dismemberment of a recently shot stag. After this scene, everything else seems rather blasé.
Director: Ed Boase
Cast: Oliver Boot, Tracy Ifeachor, Joseph Kloska, Cicely Tennant, Jay Taylor
'Blooded' is in selected UK cinemas now but is also available via on demand services, and on DVD at Amazon.co.uk.