Monday, October 5, 2020

Books of Blood Review: An Interwoven Tale of Dread and the Dead

Clive Barker Books of Blood Scare Gore Dread Halloween Terror

Release date: October 7, 2020
Running time: 107 minutes
Starring: Britt Robertson, Rafi Gavron, Anna Friel, Yul Vazquez, Freda Foh Shen

Based on Clive Barker’s acclaimed and influential horror anthology BOOKS OF BLOOD, this feature takes audiences on a journey into uncharted and forbidden territory through three uncanny tales tangled in space and time. 

Books of Blood is broken up into three main stories, each focusing on a character and their paranormal or creepy experiences.  The three characters are Jenna, Miles, and Bennett, and although the three stories are independent incidents, they do intertwine with each other.  The characters run into each other in random ways and their stories and choices affect each other.  The first story, Jenna, is about a girl with some mental issues trying to escape a pursuer.  This one has really good acting by Britt Robertson, who plays the namesake of this chapter.  It also has really fantastic sound effects as Jenna's character is triggered by sound.  Every sound around her can be emphasized when she is having an episode.  But also, when she shuts out the world the sound gets very dampened, causing you to be on edge for what will happen that she can't hear.  Miles is about someone who can speak to the dead, and has a great use of color and lighting to emphasize what is going on.  When he is invoking otherworldly powers, the screen will fill with a single color.  And it also has a fantastic performance by Rafi Gavron and Anna Friel, as the pair that work to harness the power of the dead.  It has an interesting feel and felt like a larger epic at times.  And Bennett is the last of these, with characters we have met before on their own adventure that turns supernatural.  

What Books of Blood does well is the storytelling.  It has a long story with three sub stories that intertwine and relate to each other.  The cameos in each tie them altogether and let you see more of what happens.  Some aspects of the film touch on a greater purpose, such as the Miles story, and feels like you are watching something that is looking at a greater overall story.  I also liked the episodic nature of the film as that could have additional chapters added to this cursed book.  The film also has some good make up effects when it uses them (more on that later).  They are classic horror gore and done very well.

However, whenever the film uses CG (and it does so in some pivotal parts) it just looks unbelievable.  It is over the top and breaks your suspension of disbelief.  The first time I saw it, it was so jarring that I couldn't help but laugh.  Later it is used in a very big scene that causes the whole pivotal moment to just look ridiculous.  It could have been handled so much better (and had been earlier in the story).  I think they were trying to show some grandiose tale, but had they left it more shrouded in mystery it would have come off as scarier and more sinister.  And after seeing this scene, it made it tough to take that character seriously.  However, Books of Blood does succeed in telling a creepy story through three interweaving tales, with some interesting characters and a genuine sense of dread at times.  

Books of Blood's three interwoven chapters provide plenty of dread and a fantastic use of sound and color in this movie based on Clive Barker's tales. 

Rent it.

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