REVIEW: ‘Books of Blood’ Serves a Bloody Anthology

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Directed by Brannon Braga, Books of Blood is a Hulu Original anthology film named after the six-volume series of original Clive Barker stories that were published in the 1980s. Additionally, Braga worked as a co-writer with Adam Simon in this adaptation but also offers up their own original material. Books of Blood’s official synopsis is as mysterious as it is brief, promising to take viewers on a journey into the uncharted and forbidden territory through three tales tangled in space and time. The film stars Andy McQueen, Freda Foh Shen, Anna Friel, Britt Robertson, Rafi Gavron, and Yul Vazquez.

If you’re familiar with Clive Barker’s work, then you understand how stories with his name attached explore horror by looking at the ways humanity warps morality and how the supernatural and the hellish rise to meet it in the broken spots. Books of Blood feels like Barker’s stories. It’s bleak and unsettling, opening with a statement to set the tone for the anthology: that some stories cause so much harm, they’re kept in the Book of Blood — in the collective memory of humanity.

Initially reported to be an adaptation of Barker’s works via a television format, the shift to an anthology film works well but ultimately means that those coming to the property looking for the clear and concise adaptation of Barker’s series may be disappointed. That said, this film offers up enough frights and horrors to satisfy viewers this spooky season. Now, coming off of Hulu’s Monsterlanda series that offers no catharsis only a bleak emptiness, Books of Blood picks up that torch. While this film isn’t mean, offering more comeuppance for the wrongdoers, it does take time to craft characters whose morality is questioned as the film goes on.

Books of Blood

Books of Blood takes place over three different stories connected with a wraparound. It wonderfully pulls together the larger themes of the film and injects the supernatural into stories that dealt more with the awfulness of humans. “Jenn,” “Miles,” and “Bennett,” are the names of each vignette, focusing on the bloody stories that surround the characters that bear those names. In an eloquently violent wraparound, we get the chance to see how each of these stories is twisted together. While the reveals do rely on certain tropes that can feel dated, the conclusions in each of the vignettes is enough to push you back in your seat.

While I still feel that adapting the entirety of Barker’s six books in an anthology series would have been ideal, to allow for more to be written in the Book of Blood. That said, in just under two hours Braga and Simon have used the anthology format to its fullest and execute connecting the disparate stories together with a light enough touch to bring surprise when it’s revealed. Overall, Books of Blood is a great film for the spooky season. While it isn’t groundbreaking, it offers up good body horror, a solid narrative, and feels like horrifying stories told around the campfire.

Books of Blood is available exclusively on Hulu October 7, 2020.

Books of Blood
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

While I still feel that adapting the entirety of Barker’s six books in an anthology series would have been ideal, to allow for more to be written in the Book of Blood. That said, in just under two hours Braga and Simon have used the anthology format to its fullest and executes connecting the disparate stories together lightly enough to bring surprise when its revealed. Overall, Books of Blood is a great film for the spooky season. While it isn’t groundbreaking, it offers up good body horror, a solid narrative, and feels like horrifying stories told around the campfire.