Movie Review: ‘Blood Craft’

Review by Jay Bowman

What happens when a sex worker reunites with her long lost sister following the death of their abusive father? Why, they harness the dark arts to revive him and enact their revenge, of course!

Grace (Madeleine Wade) and Serena (Augie Duke) found themselves at the mercy of their alcoholic father and minister (David Sheridan) following the death of their mother. Still children, they could do nothing but endure his physical and sexual abuse. Eventually, Grace ran away after dad told her that Serena had run away. Fast forward X years—Grace gets the news that dad is dead and goes to the old family house, only to find Serena unexpectedly waiting for her. What follows is the most rigorous abuse of flashbacks to build characters I’ve seen in a while. All it takes is Serena to start describing one of the horrible things their father did to cast us back in time and watch the child abuse play out onscreen. Good prediction of PTSD, but awkward in a movie. In this way, Blood Craft is gross in a style that isn’t fun. I found it more effective listening to Serena describe these things and watching Grace react with fear way more meaningful than seeing a separate set of actors re-enact the scenes described seconds before, sometimes in shocking detail. The frequency with which this happens also undermines the presumed purpose of those scenes, and it becomes tedious. In some ways, I suppose it makes sense: the movie really, really wants you to hate the child-molesting dad and chooses to lay it on thick, just in case someone watching missed the story’s subtle message that child abuse is bad.

When the girls started talking about getting revenge by reviving him with a spell (despite being married to a Christian minister, mum taught her daughters witchcraft—go figure), my mind was alight with all the ways this could go wrong and the story could turn around. Surely, I thought, the people behind this don’t think that reviving a dead man just to kill him again will be just comeuppance for all the evil he’s done. But that’s exactly what happens, save for one minor hiccup, and the film’s second half is made up of the girls taking revenge on their kinda zombie dad, stabbing and slicing him over and over again, while he tries to make flimsy justifications for everything he did to them and paint himself as a victim too. It’s more than a little weird.

When the sisters aren’t having teary conversations (or whispering so low you can’t hear them over the music), they’re double-killing dad or reliving their traumatic childhoods. We constantly rotate through these or do them in some combination, without a whole lot happening otherwise. There’s a hail Mary plot twist in the last ten minutes that tries to salvage what is otherwise a very thin story, but it was telegraphed so early that it’s not shocking by the time of the reveal. None of the actors seem to have fleshed out their characters, instead grabbing onto one defining aspect and banking like hell on that being enough.

To give credit where it is due, the lighting in this movie is great. Most of the film takes place in the house, much of it in a single room, and in this limited space shadows and light are manipulated in a way that really casts a disquieting atmosphere, even during daytime scenes. That isn’t to say that it’s particularly realistic (they must have a really blue moon in their neighborhood), but it’s one of the things that worked really well. To overthink things a bit and give credit where it might not be due, there’s a commentary on the repetitive cycle of abuse buried in there somewhere (maybe?).

Still, there’s not much satisfaction in watching the revenge get carried out thanks to the pacing and complete lack of tension, and the heavy nature of the abuse the sisters endured as children make the few attempts at sexploitation with their adult characters sprinkled throughout very, very awkward. It’s violent, sure, but considering that most of these acts are done against a man bound to the floor, it’s not what I’d call exciting. Had it been a thirty minute short without all the pointlessly slow padding, Blood Craft could have been a good watch. At feature length, however, it’s a sleepy experience. So what does Blood Craft have to offer an audience? Not much, I’m afraid.

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