The Bloody Man (2022)

Director: Daniel Benedict

Running Time: 133 Minutes

Starring: Lisa Wilcox, Tuesday Knight, KateLynn E. Newberry, David Daniel, Roni Jonah, Larry Kenney, Ellie Parker

My review of The Bloody Man was first published at Bloody Good Reads.

A passion project funded through Kickstarter, director Daniel Benedict wanted to create a coming-of-age horror film which replicated “the heart, look, and feel of our favourite movies from the 1980s”. From the opening showing classic toys as a synth score plays, to a Ferris Bueller homage, the result resembles a Kinder Egg missing its toy - a nostalgic shell with a hollow centre.

In the 1980’s, Sam Harris (David Daniel) is struggling to cope after losing his mother Laurie (Lisa Wilcox). He acts out regularly, although such problems seem small when Sam is targeted by an evil being called The Bloody Man.

Losing himself in comic-books, Sam is full of hurt which leaves him clashing with his family, including stepmother Kim (Tuesday Knight). There are small moments when the relationships can feel genuine, particularly the siblings, although they disappear too quickly. Co-writers Daniel and Casi Benedict try taking these characters on a journey from fighting to reconciliation, although the arcs feel lacking in the middle and incomplete.

A good performance can leave viewers believing the circumstances, regardless of how fantastical they are. In this instance, the performances are too exaggerated to sell the kids grappling with grief. The supporting characters include an obnoxious bully, and a principal embracing his amateur wrestler persona. These characters feel tailored for funny gags, yet the film takes itself too seriously to make them work.

The story of a boy stalked by unimaginable evil seems straightforward, yet there’s a lacking focus which often derails things. Dream sequences and flashbacks flesh out the plot, although they run too long while the story stalls around them. The 133-minute runtime feels too long, needing a good edit and greater discipline.

The key issue lies in the titular monster itself, as The Bloody Man just isn’t intimidating. There’s no sense of urgency or peril for the leads facing this monster, as they spend much time taking breathers within the house. As Sam plays toys with his sister in the closet, one wonders if the villain somehow got lost. Shared stories cannot sell the characters terror, as the scares and thrills feel unfortunately absent.