The concept of time repeating itself – which was so wonderfully envisioned in Groundhog Day – translated well to the realms of science fiction when Edge Of Tomorrow took the idea and ran with it. The convention is simple enough and could be adapted into all kinds of interesting and unexpected areas, such as horror, and in the right hands the possibilities are boundless.
Blood Punch is an example of how not to do it and presents some very clear marker-points for others to pick apart and learn from. It is a strange and bewildering exercise in magic-realism that, try as it might, misses the mark and overstays its welcome.
New Zealanders Olivia Tennet (Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers) and Milo Cawthorn (Deathgasm) star as Skyler and Milton respectively. She is reckless and acid-tongued while he is nerdish and introverted. After she checks into a methadone rehab clinic to recruit his scientific mind, they stage a brazen break-out with the assistance of her psychotic boyfriend Russell, played by another Kiwi, Ari Boyland (Power Rangers RPM), and flee into the hills. There, in a secluded hunting cabin, they create a lucrative meth kitchen, which unbeknownst to them, is located on land that is poisoned by an ancient Native American curse. Each day they awake to the same morning. And so begins a murderous and, sadly, arduous and repetitive cycle of uninspired tosh and unimaginative horror.
Director Madellaine Paxson makes her feature-film debut with Blood Punch, and while she presents some visually interesting ideas, she seems to have been overwhelmed by the concept. She puts her camera in most of the right places and she obviously has an eye for the horror aesthetic, but there are an unfortunate number of stumbling blocks.
One of the major issues has to be with the film’s soundtrack. The story is accompanied by a ludicrously comical score, undermining all of the suspense and replacing it instead with farce. Opportunities to scare the audience are wasted on a dumb and fanciful musical arrangement, which may have been better suited to a Kinder Surprise commercial.
Tennet, Cawthorn and Boyland struggle with the three-character story and seem beleaguered by their single-location environment. Their performances are mostly stilted and laboured, and they play for the humour rather than the horror, which exposes their background in children’s daytime television. These performances, combined with the misplaced music, make for an awkward and mundane movie-going experience that presents a concept full of potential, but without conviction.
Very few filmmakers succeed with their debut feature film and that’s what makes these first efforts so important. What Paxson has demonstrated is a visual prowess, which, with better alignment with the other aspects, could put her in good stead to becoming one of the genre’s exciting up-and-coming directors. She should chalk Blood Punch up as a learning curve, take note and get on with the next film.
THE REEL SCORE: 3/10