FILM REVIEW: BLOOD ON HER NAME
The staff over at FEARFOREVER doesn’t only watch horror films. True, we prefer horror to other genres, but we like all types of different movies. Such is the case with our latest review for BLOOD ON HER NAME. We missed our chance to see this one during our coverage of the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival, so I was anxious to catch this one ahead of its February 28th release date. Personally, I would say that BLOOD ON HER NAME falls somewhere on the spectrum of film noir or perhaps more fittingly, southern gothic. It’s a dark and gritty film, that could easily fit into either category. It isn’t without its hiccups, but considering that it’s writer/director Matthew Pope’s first feature film, it shows a hell of a lot of talent.
BLOOD ON HER NAME begins with our protagonist Leigh Tiller (Bethany Anne Lind) staring off into the night from an open garage door in her family’s mechanic shop. It’s clear from her expression, as well as the several fresh cuts and bruises on her face, that she’s very recently been through some shit. The camera then reveals a beaten and bloody man lying next to her on the floor. We as the viewer are not exactly sure what has happened here, but whatever it was, it resulted in this man’s death. Leigh wraps the body in plastic and loads it up into the trunk of her car. Now comes the all too common problem of what to do with the body? For now, it’s going to remain in the trunk of her car.
The next day, Leigh takes her son Ryan (Jared Ivers) to his mandatory meeting with his probation officer. It’s at this juncture that we learn a little bit more about the Tiller family in general. Ryan’s dad is locked up for car theft, Leigh is barely keeping the business afloat, and Ryan has been getting into fights at school. It’s a clever way to get some much needed exposition, and it also gives us a little insight as to the seedy types of people that may or may not include the dead guy currently in Leigh’s trunk.
While on their way back to that family auto shop, Leigh is pulled over by the town’s sheriff (Will Patton) who also happens to be her father. Like all good fathers, he knows something isn’t right with his daughter’s behavior, but it’s also apparent that their relationship is not a very good one. He offers up his help, but Leigh isn’t in the mood. She heads back to the shop to erase any traces of what transpired the night before. Her actions catch the attention of lead mechanic Rey (Jimmy Gonzales) who also offers a helping hand to which Leigh again refuses. It’s obvious that whatever has happened, Leigh is hell bent on handling it herself.
As you can imagine, Leigh’s plan (or lack thereof) begins to unravel and spiral into all sorts of deception and deceit. Little by little the truth about the dead man’s circumstances begin to emerge, as do some of the folks looking for him. Some claim to be family, and some appear to have ulterior motives. As things continue to spiral, Leigh has no choice but to involve her estranged father and in doing so, face the truth regarding their strained relationship. Will anyone be absolved for their past sins? Or is redemption just out of reach for Leigh and those closest to her?
BLOOD ON HER NAME is not a bad little film as I mentioned above, especially for a debut feature. I also think that it showed a lot of potential, and hopefully the director has another feature on the horizon. But now, for those pesky hiccups I mentioned above. Personally, I just found the pacing to be a bit too slow, even for its short 85 minute runtime. But perhaps most egregiously…I just found ALL of the characters to be unlikeable. Leigh’s motivations were always a little too vague all the way through, and her actions at times border on…well…just plain stupid! It’s true that the southern gothic subgenre has been home to many antiheroes, ne’er do wells, and misanthropes of all shapes and sizes, I just didn’t find these characters to be all that interesting. I was also a bit disappointed with the ultimate conclusion. Why, do you ask? Without giving any spoilers away, the film sets up a third act twist that seasoned viewers will see coming a mile away. I put the pieces together early, but I had hoped that maybe I was wrong…alas, I was not. All said and done BLOOD ON HER NAME just left me wanting more. Like that itch that goes unscratched, or that sneeze that never comes to fruition.
BLOOD ON HER NAME is out on streaming platforms now!
2 Tombstones out of 5…