★★★★ out of ★★★★★
What are you willing to sacrifice to realise your dreams?
Directed by Blake Vaz.
Writer/director/editor/producer/all around renaissance man, Blake Vaz, was kind enough to give us a peek at his short film, Blood Stains, and we’re glad he did!
Coming in at a lean 13 minutes, Blood Stains has been gobbling up the awards and accolades on the festival circuit since its 2018 release. Everything from its original soundtrack by Vaz’s band (The Mulberry Purple) to its special effects to the great cinematography from Daniel Gomez Bagby have all won festival awards. Eleven wins and seven additional nominations according to IMDB. There’s a lot of winning packed into these 13 minutes.
The story follows wannabe rock star, Laz [Hansel Ramírez], as he comes to the realization that nobody in his life believes he has what it takes to make it big. Well, okay, except maybe his mom.
Frustrated with this lack of support, Laz decides to leave his home in the border land of El Paso/Juarez and head for the golden streets of Los Angeles, California. Armed with a can-do attitude and a willingness to sacrifice anything to make his dreams come true, he sets off across the desert.
After a chance meeting with a mysterious stranger [Aaron Gaffey] at a run down gas station in the middle of the Arizona wasteland, things seem to be looking up for young Laz. But was it just chance that brought them together? And what does this stranger really want?
The film quickly whips through the set up so we can spend as much time as possible watching the interactions of Laz and the Stranger. Aaron Gaffey steals the show as the enigmatic man so this is a good thing. His intensity and confidence shine through while Laz occasionally comes across as a bit awkward.
The story itself isn’t particularly original, but it’s a classic (a la blues singer Robert Johnson) and the presentation is well done. Sound quality is top notch throughout and the camera work in Blood Stains is stellar. The desolate desert landscape and confining interior of Laz’s car are used to great effect.
As the film devolves into a sanguinous erotic nightmare, Blake Vaz’s editing skills come to the forefront and we’re swept away by a frenetic stream of crazy imagery. Eventually resurfacing; out of breath and unsure of where we are.
This was a fun short to watch and the folks behind it obviously knew what they were doing. Here’s hoping this same crew will be given the green light to produce something feature-length. Or, at least another short film. Or something. More! Just more!
Blood Stains is still making its way around the festival circuit so keep checking the schedules of your local film festivals! Word on the street says you can catch it:
- July 13 at the Indie Horror Film Fest in Dekalb, IL
- July 25 at the Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase in Fort Worth, TX
We’ll keep our ears to the ground as well and pass along any other potential viewings we hear about.
Review by Robert Zilbauer.