Review by James Lindorf
Directed by BAFTA award-winning filmmaker Jonathan Hacker, and based on his book of the same title, Path of Blood depicts Islamist terrorism in a way most of the world has never experienced. Hacker stitches together security camera footage, film recorded by the Saudi Arabian government, and the terrorists’ own home video footage in his tale of good and evil. This film was presented mostly in Arabic, with English subtitles, except for the narrator and the “Voice of Jihad,” which played over a handful of scenes when a lot of exposition was required. Path of Blood opens July 13th in major cities around the United States and the UK.
This film is not for the faint of heart; multiple bombings, firefights, and other attacks are shown throughout. Thankfully Hacker does spare us from the most gruesome moments. While Hacker depicts the Saudi government as purely good, most likely a stipulation to get the footage they gave him, he manages to show the human side of the terrorists and not treat them like monsters. We get to see them laughing, playing in the rain, joking with children, but their lifestyle is omnipresent. Sure, they play with the kids, but the kids are wearing fatigues and masks just like they do when they carry out an attack. They will get out and dance in the rain and at the same time ask it to be a good sign and allow them to cleanse the earth of infidels. We see how they are twisted by powerful men to believe in their corrupted take on religion and how they bribe the men with the glory of a place in heaven and all the benefits of martyrdom.
Hacker filled Path of Blood with many artful touches like the use of a snowy background, similar to old VHS tapes. The music is also used to significant effect. There is a lot you can learn from this film as well, especially if you weren’t watching every news report in the early 2000’s. You learn about who the terrorists targeted the most and which groups they impacted most frequently. It is a deep dive into a dark part of history that I will never forget and never watch again, though I am glad I watched it this time. It’s good to have a reminder that people aren’t pure evil and that the Path of Blood isn’t a dead-end road.