The latest from renowned director Brad Anderson, Blood takes the familiar horror story of a parent who will go to any lengths to save a dying child and succeeds in setting itself apart from the pack thanks to solid direction and acting.
Nurse and recovering addict Jess (Michelle Monaghan) has a lot on her plate: moving with her daughter Tyler (Skylar Morgan Jones) and younger son Owen (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) into her family farmhouse, where she grew up, while in the process of divorcing her husband Patrick (Skeet Ulrich), who aims to win the bitter custody battle the two are having. Things are about to get far worse for her, as the family dog returns after going missing for some time and viciously bites Owen, causing Owen to start having an addiction of his own, which viewers can guess from the film’s title.
The predicament places Jess squarely in the horror movie camp of parents who go to the most extreme of measures to save their children, with Jess having to face one moral dilemma after another as she tries to find ways to placate her son’s needs, which grow stronger every day. Having to hide Owen’s condition from everyone makes matters even more difficult.
Director Brad Anderson (Session 9; The Machinist), working from Will Honley’s (Bloodline; The Hive) screenplay, does a superb job of balancing family drama with fear-fare elements, assisted by strong performances, particularly from a terrific Monaghan as the central focus, Jones as the daughter caught in the middle and trying to make sense of her mother’s actions, and Wojtak-Hissong grounding his work well so that it never strays into being unintentionally humorous.
The crux of Blood is certainly not new to horror cinema, but Anderson’s skill and artistry at the helm and the performances from Monaghan and the child actors, along with top-notch production values, raise the film well above average entries in the “desperate parents” subgenre. Though the film slows down a bit at times, it boasts plenty of suspense and eeriness, and is an admirable work that comes recommended.
Review by Joseph Perry
Vertical Entertainment US presents Blood in theaters from January 27, 2023 and On Demand from January 31, 2023.