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May 2011

Blooded

cast: Nick Ashedon, Oliver Boot, Tracy Ifeachor, Joseph Klosta, and Cicely Tennant

director: Edward Boase

76 minutes (15) 2011
widescreen ratio 16:9
Revolver DVD Region 2

RATING: 5/10
review by Jim Steel

Blooded

Ambitiously flawed, the structure of Blooded causes irritation throughout the viewing experience. It's almost as if the director got cold feet and decided to insert another layer to thicken the broth. Unfortunately that has rendered a fascinatingly shot (albeit run-of-the-mill) humans-as-prey hunting thriller into something that is disjointed and difficult to watch. Small bits of it, however, are very good indeed.

Five young friends, including a rich land-owner (Nick Ashedon and - briefly - Neil McDermott) who is a strong advocate of fox hunting, decide to go stag hunting on a remote part of Mull. They are drugged by animal liberationists who turn them loose, alone and nearly naked, on the hills and then proceed to hunt them down. The resulting chase is filmed and released on the internet. This does not constitute a spoiler for we are made aware of this from the start. Nor is the film made from 'found footage' as, apart from a very few brief seconds, none of the 'real' footage is used.

Instead, the events on Mull are recreated with actors while the real victims (played by different actors) recount their experiences in studio interviews that are inter-cut with the docudrama. There is little in the way of tension there since we know from the start that most of them survive. There is also no attempt to pick sides on the ethics of hunting, although the animal liberation folk, with their balaclavas and combat jackets, are at a slight disadvantage when it comes to viewer identification. It becomes apparent that this is an exploration of psychology under stress. Unfortunately most of the actors in the interviews can't deliver their parts with any conviction (Isabella Calthorpe is the one exception), and it comes across as an exercise in telling instead of showing.

There is also a problem with the docudrama footage in that it takes half-an-hour to get going. There are various trials and tribulations as the characters establish their personalities, including an over-egged side-plot where Lucas tries to propose to his ex-girlfriend (Cicely Tennant on Mull, Isabella Calthorpe in the studio). Having been up in hunting lodges and cottages in the highlands myself, I should like to point out that no one dresses in black tie for dinner, even ironically. It's too much hard work after a long day. And no-one drinks High Commissioner whisky unless they've got a drink problem and no money. The stuff's foul. It strongly suggests that someone fairly clueless was sent out to buy props.

The film becomes more interesting once the characters are abandoned on the hillside. The scenery overpowers the characters and if your only previous exposure to Mull was Balamory then you will be impressed. If the director had had the courage to allow the space and silence of the place to reign then he would have produced a much better film. What is the point of making a hunting thriller in the first place if you feel that you are above the genre?

There are plenty of DVD bonus features. There are the usual commentaries and making-of documentary, outtakes of even more of the studio 'interviews' that were mercifully not used, and there is also a little three-minute gem called Home Video. A woman wakes up in the middle of the night to find that her television is on and she is being filmed on a camcorder. She rewinds the camcorder footage and realises that she has been stalked throughout the day. It's a shaggy dog story that manages to chill because we know exactly where it is going. No attempt was made to subvert the genre here.



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