What do you get when you blend Groundhog Day, Evil Dead, and Breaking Bad together? You get Blood Punch!
Madellaine Paxson is a name that is currently blazing a trail through the festival circuit, and her directorial debut Blood Punch makes it clear why. With only a limited theatrical run before its release onto VOD formats, Blood Punch is still on the minds of Hollywood. And although many might turn their nose up at indie-film production value, anyone who does will be sorely missing out on a film far more clever and entertaining than typical low-budget fare.
We meet Milton, (Milo Cawthorne,) a nerdy whiz kid who is balls deep in rehab. When he meets Skyler, played by Olivia Tennet, he gets thrown into what seems to be a job that is too good to be true – bust out of rehab, cook a hundred pounds of meth in 24 hours, and retire early. But nothing good comes from such schemes, and things quickly deteriorate thanks to a Skyler’s crazy boyfriend (played by Ari Boyland,) and a strange curse that they all must figure out to free themselves from it.
The cast is small and tight as a drum, powered by Tennet and Cawthorne. The two are actually married in real life, so the onscreen chemistry is a no-brainer for the two along with the ability to easily fall into a believable, conversational delivery of scenes. Add in Boyland as the terrifyingly off-kilter ex-cop Russell and what you have is a trio of highly magnetic characters and enjoyable banter.
Another huge kudos to Paxson and Blood Punch for showing the world how you properly use what you’ve got in a horror film with a small budget. If your sound quality isn’t going to be great in one aspect, you just take it into a home video/Memento situation. Make your editing seamless in the gory bits. And above all, make sure your script has the meat to tell the story and you have a seriously talented (and frugal,) cast to carry it. It adds to the charm of the film to know that not only is this made with passion, but with a level head as well. Your entertainment is firmly set in competent hands. The fact that you have more story than a 2 ½ hour long Michael Bay movie set before you should be a selling point, as well.
The movie starts out fast, definitely hitting the ground at meth-head speed. It causes a touch of concern simply because you have no reason to have any interest in the character of Milton, nor do you know if you should be for or against the person. We have nothing to legitimately go on in terms of his character, which makes for a beginning that feels perilous. I don’t need to know the whole life story of the guy, but a little more of a taste of what kind of man Milton is before we are introduced to the dilemma would be helpful. Everyone else in the film has a solid and definitely introduction, though, which makes it even more disappointing to begin the film with such a blank introduction for your movie’s main character.
The influences of Blood Punch are incredibly apparent – Groundhog Day, Evil Dead, Cabin Fever, Breaking Bad, Poltergeist…the list goes on and on. If this is a hindrance or a help to the film, I am not entirely sure. It draws in those who love seeing their favorites get a nod, but when it is glaringly apparent it runs the risk of frustrating others. It still manages to give the audience a grin throughout, though, as long as you can simply just relax and enjoy the high.
Blood Punch is a maniacal, darkly humorous drug PSA that deserves a place on your Netflix queue. Be sure to check it out on all platforms now, or pick up a copy to brag to your friends you knew about it before it was cool.