“Of evil grain, no good seed comes.” – Kurdish Proverb
From the first frame of this film, you know you are in for an exotic tale. Jennifer Phillips writes and directs Blood Child, a film now available on VOD with your favorite streaming platforms. Starring Alyx Melone, the film is based on the Malay myth of a being called the Toyol, a breed of ghost children raised from the afterlife by black magic. The film follows Ashley (Melone,) as she succumbs to the grief of a miscarriage and chooses to depend on a dark ritual that will bring her baby back. When she becomes pregnant again, though, her ghost child shows no interest in being a big sister.
I have to say, the introduction to a new paranormal myth gave me a thrill because as any jaded film fan will tell you, “there are no new ideas.” I was anxious to hear this tale, and was not disappointed in those terms. But beyond that, I rapidly began to have a hard time. The biggest issue was that of everyone’s personality. There seemed to be two gears: apathetic, or unlikable. The only two to survive said gears to any point was Ashley and Citi, the maid who was brought over from Singapore when Ashley and her husband moved back to the states. Ashley is the only one kind to her and Melone has some outstanding moments on both the emotionally wrenching and unsettling scales, but for the most point she also is very low energy and bland.
The rest of the characters, from the husband to best friend to mother, are the 100% definition of white privilege. They are disbelieving of things, ignore serious issues and above all are all terrible to Citi, going so far as to make snide comments directly to her face. From her demeanor to her grasp of the English language, nothing is off limits to them and all of them come off as Cinderella’s evil stepfamily. Ever wonder what a WASP is? Watch this movie, and you will get the idea.
Another issue would be that of the ghost child herself. Coco Wiga and Tara Chitaroni do an impeccable job of being terrifying, and there is no issue with their performances, but in one scene the husband, Bill, played by Biden Hall, is about to cheat on Ashley in a scummy bar. As the woman he chose drags him around the corner and drops to her knees and he looks down, he sees the face of a zombie child – HIS child, let’s remember that – about to chow down. That is so triggering and disturbing I would wonder what the children’s parents thought when they saw this scene play out.
The mother Renee, played by Lisa Kovack, also is an issue beyond her blatant racism. She keeps seeing a creepy couple staring at her when visiting her daughter’s home. It is later shown that they are in fact ghosts. Why are they there? Why do they care and go so far as to even come onto Ashley’s property? They are never addressed. They are seemingly a pointless thing. The only possibility is that they are shown to prove that Renee is clairvoyant or something to the effect. This becomes a plot point because suddenly, without any pretense, Renee knows every last detail of the ritual, or that Ashley did a ritual at all. She dumps it all out in the third act and you are left with an eyebrow quirked at how huge a plot hole there is to fall into.
Overall, the myth is fascinating and as this movie says it is based on true events from Southeast Asia and the US, I would like to know more. But if that meant watching this movie again, I would have to pass.