Bloodline (2018)
★ / ★★★★

First-time director Henry Jacobson wishes to tell a story about a monster hiding in plain sight in “Bloodline,” a psychological thriller so devoid of suspense, creativity, and drama that to say it is a Great Value version of the television series “Dexter” would be an insult to the brand—because the brand is meant to save us money while the film wastes our time. Nearly every second of its ninety-five minute running time feels like pulling teeth because no tension is accumulated; we are simply meant to sit through a series of would-be shocking events which almost always end up with a victim getting his or her throat sliced open. Cue the blood spatter on the killer’s face.

In the middle of it, I wondered if Seann William Scott actually read the screenplay before signing on for the project. He must have because it is obviously an independent film with limited budget—not at all a multimillion-dollar franchise in which an actor gets paid the big bucks. Did he owe someone a favor? Was he threatened to do the picture? Is this a two-part deal? In any case, his talent is wasted here. His character, a high school counselor who has a new baby at home, is not written with searing insight, great depth, and surprising details—strange because the intention of the work is for us to look at Mr. Cole and recognize eventually he is a portrait of evil. It is not enough to show him killing people that he thinks deserve to be punished; we must have an understanding of what makes a complex subject tick. What is/are his moral code(s)? Does he have any? Whatever the case, what makes this character worth looking into?

Mr. Cole’s penchant for killing stems from a traumatizing childhood event. (Aren’t they all?) These flashbacks lack control in terms of editing and how it is shot. They are presented to us randomly, perhaps when the subject becomes so stressed in his home life and/or while at work. The intention, I guess, is to show that he has such a flimsy grasp on reality that his mind must reach back into the past in order to cope. It is most unconvincing because the material also suggests that Mr. Cole is addicted to killing. It cannot be both because these are two different needs. There is a lack of both consistency and a basic understanding of abnormal psychology in Avra Fox-Lerne, Henry Jacobson, and Will Honley’s screenplay.

Strong debut pictures are usually propelled by great energy. At times first-time filmmakers wish to throw everything but the kitchen sink into their project—just in case they will not have another opportunity to make a second movie. In “Bloodline,” it is almost the exact opposite. There is no sense of desperation here channeled into something positive. It is lifeless, dour, and nearly every element feels constricted. Listen to the dialogue, for instance. It sounds like actors are reading from the script instead of simply being. Look at how scenes are shot indoors versus outdoors—there is little difference. It is no wonder the work is flat in look and feeling.

Even the relationship between husband and wife (Mariela Garriga) is most unconvincing. We are supposed to notice a difference in how their lifestyle changes as a couple once the adorable baby arrives—when it is not painfully apparent the performers are carrying or interacting with a doll—but there is nothing to sink our teeth into because minimal context is provided when it comes to how their lives are like before parenthood. It does not help that Scott and Garriga share no chemistry. When they are in bed together, it feels like a bad joke. We wait for the punchline.

5 replies »

  1. I just tried to watch this. Wow, this was dull and lifeless. I just learned about this movie last night, so looked up IMDB reviews and so many reviews praised Scott’s performance; it got me excited about it. I don’t know what they’re talking about b/c Scott sucked in this movie; everything sucked; this was complete garbage. I turned it off like 30-40 minutes in. I considered ejecting sooner. So, I came here to see if you had a review for it, and yeah you mirrored all of my sentiments; this was complete trash. And to compare this to “Dexter”. lol. the only thing it had in common with Dexter was Desmond Harrington…

    So, here is how this could have been much better: 1. after the nurse is murdered, start an investigation; show Scott trying to evade police; direct his character to have more life when speaking instead of being so deadpan. I read spoilers and saw that it was the mother who murdered the nurse, so that is something to show about the bloodline, and they could have built on that, but all they did was piece together a bunch of scenes that didn’t feel like they went together. This was one of the worst examples of directing I’ve ever seen. This made “Force of Nature” look like an Academy Award production. lol.

    Also, there was NO plot here! What was the freaking point? I was 30 minutes in and there was no natural forward progression. There is not a single positive aspect about this; no saving grace. And some tried to compare this to the “Maniac” remake with Elijah Wood. lol. Not that that was the greatest film, but it had some intrigue, and Wood’s performance was great. At least “Fatal Affair” was hilariously bad! This one wasn’t even bad in any kind of humorous way; just dead all around. Other than those criticisms, though, it was decent! lol.

    • lol maybe you should have checked my take on it first; it might have dissuaded you from watch this awful movie!

      It’s funny because when I was reading the changes you wanted, I had NO IDEA what originally happened in the movie. It’s that forgettable to me. So, sorry, I wish I could retort, argue, or whatever. But I really don’t remember. And there’s no way I’d sit through even clips from this film. Not even if I got paid.

      I did, however, have fun writing this scathing review! hahaha

      • I still would have watched even if I had seen your 1-star rating b/c the premise looked interesting, but you know me, if i think a movie sucks or is lifeless I will eject, so I did; the only reason I stayed 30-40 minutes in was b/c I was reading IMDB reviews while it was playing, and I considered turning it off, so read spoilers to see if there was a twist that may make the film worth watching, but no; there really is not a single positive thing to say about this film…

        But I WOULD watch it if someone paid me! lol. If anyone wants to paypal me $50 to view this film, I’m down! lol.

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