Review by Tyler Hicks
Blood in the Water is a brisk 90-minute thriller, but you would be forgiven for glancing at your watch every now and then. It’s the third feature from Ben and Orson Cummings, and despite some captivating visuals, Blood in the Water languishes below the surface too long to be interesting.
Main characters Percy (Alex Russell) and Veronica (Willa Holland) are a twentysomething couple living it up at a fancy manor in the Hollywood hills and doing their best to hide something from a nosy cop. What that something is is never clear until the very end, and all we know is that Percy and Veronica’s friend is dead—oh, and they probably killed him.
The Cummings brothers begin the film with the cop’s very unfriendly interrogation of the couple, then splices this interaction throughout the film in the lead-up to the murder that we know is coming. This approach creates some semblance of tension, but none of the actors seem committed enough to sell it.
The best performer here is Holland, known for her work as Thea Queen on Arrow. She has some strong moments sprinkled throughout the film, but the filmmakers seem much more interested in the dynamic between her boyfriend Percy and their troublemaking friend Freedgood (Miguel Gómez). Neither actor has enough charisma to make us care about their bromance, but then again, the script never gives them a fair shake.
The writing is long on exhausting expository dialogue, and short on interesting material. Whenever the actors get the chance to say something worth listening to, they botch the rare opportunity with painfully awkward, labored line readings. It’s a vicious cycle of poor performances and even poorer dialogue that only ends when the credits roll.
Ben and Orson are much stronger directors than they are writers, and their stylistic approach to the film is aided by some stellar cinematography by Michael Alden Lloyd. His work is reminiscent of the recent thriller High-Rise, a dark flick that also dealt with themes like greed, lust and power.
The key difference is that High-Rise featured sharp writing and a discomforting message about the darker side of society. Blood in the Water definitely lacks the former, and in its quest for the latter, it becomes a mix between a half-baked Hitchcock homage and an episode of The O.C. gone really, really bad.
There are worse reasons to shell out a few bucks for a VOD film, but it’s probably best to avoid the Blood in the Water.