REVIEW: ‘Blood Vessel’ is a Trip

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Blood Vessel

I’m a sucker for claustrophobic horror movies. The biggest issue with hauntings or even going into a vampire’s lair is that you can yell at the screen telling the protagonists to just leave. But, when you close off their exits and create a claustrophobic environment through place or circumstance, the tension is upped and the horror can begin. This is why despite being critically chided, Ghost Ship is a horror movie I always return to. And this is why Blood Vessel will be added to my repeat horror watch lists.

A Shudder OriginalBlood Vessel is directed by Justin Dix and co-written by Dix and Jordan Prosser. The film takes place somewhere in the North Atlantic in late 1945. The film opens with expositionary text that maps out the way the Nazi ships began targeting any and every ship in the Atlantic, especially those holding medical personnel and civilians. This sets the stage as we meet a group of people stranded on a life raft adrift at sea. The survivors of a torpedoed hospital ship, they’re struggling. With no food, water, or shelter, all seems lost until a seemingly abandoned German minesweeper drifts ominously towards them, giving them one last chance at survival. A mix of different nationalities, the first half of the film focuses on survivors’ exploration of the abandoned ship and their issues with each other. Then, they find the bloodthirsty monsters on board.

Starring Nathan Phillips, Alyssa Sutherland, Robert Taylor, and Christopher Kirby, Blood Vessel is easily described as a war story, but one that intersects with Dracula’s time on the Demeter. As we explore the characters’ backstories and learn more about how they interact with each other and the realities of war, we get surface commentary on WWII. That said, once the coffin opens, the film hits a gory stride that doesn’t let up, showcasing a vampire I haven’t seen before. 

The beauty of Blood Vessel—outside of its clever, punny name—is the special effects and practical effects makeup that executes a creature design both reminiscent of Count Orlok and different just the same. With large ears like bat wings, inhuman skin, and dark clothes, the vampire in the box is shockingly well done and the moments of bloodletting are original to this film. The reason I feel the need to mention originality is because vampire films, even for those who are proud vampire-trash lovers (like me), vampiric acts and creature design can get repetitive. The film gives you nostalgic Dracula and Nosferatu nods while also making everything visually unique and interesting.

Blood Vessel has a simple narrative and some very predictable character types. While this element fills the beginning of its runtime, the back-half more than makes up for it with exciting action moments and a vampire moves around the dark ship. While the film can be too dark to see at times, the use of greens and reds and the way the setting always feels like its closing in on our characters makes everything interesting.

Overall, Blood Vessel is a fun watch and that’s enough.

Blood Vessel is streaming now, exclusively on Shudder.

Blood Vessel
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Overall, Blood Vessel is a fun watch and that’s enough.