Blood Brothers, 2015.
Directed by Jose Prendes.
Starring: Graham Denman, Hannah Levien, Krystal Beyer and Barbara Crampton.
Based on the Leopold and Leob murders, Blood Brothers closely follows the fictional relationship these psychopathic men have with those that encounter them, exploring their obsessions, vanity and arrogance in their pursuit for performing the ‘perfect murder crime.’
A bold, albeit slightly inconsistent look at the story of Leopold and Leob, Prendes’ efforts to evoke a stylised psychoanalytical insight into the lives of these disturbed individuals falls short of the expectations that arise in the first 10 minutes of the film. Despite possessing a strong writing style, Blood Brothers ultimately exposes its weakness in its editing and acting. Using imposed imagery that lies on top of the central action and actors that over play their characters to comic effect, subtracts more from the narrative than adding any directorial style. Blood Brothers without a doubt possesses a huge amount of potential in the character development and the original storyline, however, the style to which Prendes adheres too is a poor one.
The opening scene to Blood Brothers offers an interesting and unique insight into what the viewer might experience in the remaining hour and a half of the film, however, viewers will be disappointed to see the film diminish in quality every evolving minute. Despite having such an auspicious opening, Blood Brothers declines into a mosaic horror flick, lifting and replicating other directorial styles badly, substituting originality for a template that leaks its colour over each instructional line.
The opening credits in the first act, for example, remain both heavily indicative of Marv’s car monologue in Sin City and any scene where characters are driving round in Pulp Fiction. The FX team seemed to be influenced by the comic colour scheme in Sin City and Hobo with a Shotgun, utilising a grey scale backdrop that brightens when any character experiences heightened forms of emotion. What might have begun as a smart artistic approach becomes something of a distraction. The scope of Blood Brothers has the ironic effect of limiting its own potential by relying so heavily on the colour aesthetic overtones of the film, which presents itself as an obvious unstable foundation past the opening credits. This is where Blood Brothers true faults lie. Where films have survived scrutiny in the past, despite their apparent lack of mediocre narratives, acting, framing or sound production, they tend to rely/survive on a single aspect or gimmick they exploit well. For films such as Hobo with a Shotgun, Blair Witch, Hardcore Henry or even Tusk, their success and cult following lie in an aesthetic that makes the film more authentic and original, the defining difference with Blood Brothers is you get the exact opposite.
The film however is well written. The dialogue exchanged between Charles (Graham Denman) and Thomas (Jon Kondelik) offer some interesting opportunities for character development that are built on well enough throughout the film. The only issue with this being the way Graham and Jon act these characters out, giving them overly emotional responses. Instead of appearing void of emotion, both characters invent an emo blue brother’s act that sees them maturing through teenage angst, rather than discovering their darkest impulses.
Unconstrained to anyone period, it seems that the intention the Prendes had, was to create an almost comic like world that exists separate from the one we know. Like the fictional realities in Sin City and Hobo with a Shotgun, Blood Brothers seems to establish its own world that includes the events that took place in the real one. This oddly effective combination of fiction and non-fiction is unnerving, adding to the unsettling subject matter working to further destabilise the norm, although this never truly settles into its own. Possibly the most redeeming feature of Blood Brothers is its framing. You can without a doubt see the admiration Prendes has for Cronenberg in his film, and despite failing to provide compelling performances or an enthralling aesthetic, Prendes succeeds in tilting his hat to the horror/thriller films of the 80’s, which perfectly suits the revolving style of his film.
A lot of the faults that lie with Blood Brothers could be blamed on the reported budget of under a million. With that said, films like Mean Creek, Shallow Grave and Blair Witch prove beyond a doubt that you can make a truly great horror/thriller with little to no money. The ambitious idea’s surrounding style and development would have been better suited for a title that had more funding, instead, the film were left with is a failed but determined attempt at creating a unique original stylised film.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★