1/2 ★ out of ★★★★★
It should go without saying that Snoop Dogg and Stephen Baldwin are not, we repeat not, Al Pacino and Robert Dinero. Just as the great Ted Lange from Loveboat is not Sir Laurence Oliver, neither is Baywatch stalwart, David Chokachi. To be clear, the level of acting in Blood Pageant, and for that matter everything else, is a pretty thin stab at the horror genre.
Weirdly, directed by three people, 2021’s Blood Pageant is the not-so-sly attempt to marry Christian programming with the dark and evil arts that is horror. Kids like horror and kids like Jesus so why not shoe-horn them together in a truly cringe inducing cacophony of crappy film making. What’s delivered is the virtual equivalent of your Aunt saying “…oh, I heard you like Heavy Metal, here’s a Taylor Swift album.”
Much like last year’s release of Grizzly II which promised lots of Charlie Sheen, Laura Dern, and George Clooney, Blood Pageant promised a lot of Snoog Dogg and Stephen Baldwin and delivers about four to five minutes within an hour and 55 minute (!?!?) run time. But that’s not the problem with Blood Pageant. It’s one, but it’s not all of them.
Blood Pageant kicks things off with some overt and rather sad proselytizing. Blaming the world’s woes, and ultimately the rise in demonic presence, on things like “new age” philosophies. We’ll read between the lines in this clumsy culture war euphemism and interpret “new age” leanings as tantamount to yoga, veganism, gluten free diets, Buddhism, and well, anything that’s not meat and potatoes Caucasian Christianity.
The film follows a handful of young women set to compete on a reality TV show for fame, stardom, and the American way. While it’s entirely unclear what the competition involves and what the contestants actual talents include, these women will do whatever they can to grace themselves in front of Snoog Dogg, Matthew Marsden (Blackhawk Down), and Danielle C. Ryan. A truly auspicious trio to grace yourself in front of if there ever was one.
All the contestants are ready to fight, scratch, and claw their way to fame — that is except for church mouse and all around hyper-annoying Christian, Lucie (Alena Savostikova). She won’t get married, she can’t lie, and she name-checks Jesus in every other bit of dogmatic dialogue she’s given. As a heroine, Blood Pageant could not have cast a more unlikeable human. She reeks of Christian doctrine, is disliked by all on the set of the reality TV show, and she does her darnedest to condescendingly remind everyone that as soon as they stray from the Bible’s teachings there will be hell to pay.
Eventually there is hell to pay — and we’re not talking about the hour and 55 minutes that we’ll never get back. Blood Pageant repeatedly beats us over the head with a religious parable involving the Salem Witch trials. Interestingly, we’re not supposed to sympathize with the woman being burned at the stake by sexually-repressed males in a fit of 17th century toxic masculinity. Quite the opposite, these non-Christian weirdos had it coming to them. They ignored God and got what they deserved.
Lucie and her pal Amy (Juliana Destefano) who may/may not be a descendent of the Salem witches set out to break the curse. Armed with a beat up bible and a quart of holy water from the priest (Stephen Baldwin) — who much like Snoop is in the film for five minutes — the ladies go head to head with a series of Spirit Halloween superstore looking black metal goth witches. Who wins? God wins, duh.
Religion certainly has its place in horror. These are two really great tastes that go well together. At the Scariest Things Podcast we have discussed its merits aplenty and know when there are charlatans afoot. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, Blood Pageant is one big fat charlatan masquerading as gospel glop.
To be fair, this is a film that has nothing going for it. Really nothing. This film is not Ed Wood or Herschell Gordon Lewis. There’s no camp and there’s no laughs. There’s nothing enjoyable about the film. Unless you like to be condescended about religion by amateur filmmakers or you’re a Snoop Dogg completist, stay away from the worst film that 2021 had to offer.
Blood Pageant is likely PG-13 and is streaming on Amazon.