Horror Club: Dry Blood
DRY BLOOD just recently hit streaming services this month, but make no mistake: this film has been catching the attention of horror audiences since its initial release in 2017 in the film festival circuit. Written by Clint Carney (who also plays the main character, Brian) and directed by Kelton Jones (who also plays the cop our main character encounters in the film), Dry Blood is a movie that I'm sure people will click off before its over, but the jokes on them: the last half hour of the film is a payoff so good, you could have doubled the slow-burn portion of the movie and it'd still be worth your time. It may feel stagnant for a while with some random haunts thrown in here and there, but I promise you that everything is there for a reason, and the reason is worth the time you put into film. It's a wickedly dark downwards path that Dry Blood takes you down, but once you're down there, you'll lose your mind at what's at the bottom.
Dry Blood follows the story of Brian - an unstable, on edge drug user who wakes up from a rough binge and and decides he's had it: he's ready to make a recovery. He heads up to a nearly-isolated cabin that he owns with his ex-wife, and plans to spend as much time as he needs detoxing up there and starting a new chapter for himself. He invites a friend - Anna - to travel up to the cabin and be his rock during his detox, and to help him overcome the internal battle that would plague a recovering addict. Prior to Anna's arrival at the cabin, Brian has these bizarre run-ins with a cop who seems to be messing with Brian for no real reason at all. Once nighttime falls, things get pretty crazy around the cabin as Brian begins to hallucinate all sorts of absurd beings lurking around the house, haunting him to the point of near tears. Brian and Anna blame the hallucinations on the detox, but is it possible there's something else actually lurking around the dark cabin?
Slow burn films don't bother me much - for the most part, there's always some sort of payoff somewhere in the film that makes all the extra time in the movie worth it. And the case is no different with Dry Blood - you'll sit through some tedious, average backstory and interactions, but honestly it doesn't even feel all that bad because you can just tell halfway through that it's leading to something great, and greatness it does deliver. Brian's first experiences with the cop will feel very reminiscent of the cops you'll find in the classic Super Troopers films: the witty, sarcastic, and subtle-asshole comments the cop makes towards Brian feels straight out of Super Troopers, and it's totally awesome. Brian himself isn't a very memorable character - that is, until you hit that sweet, sweet payoff. It is then that horror fans will see much resemblance of Jack Torrence of The Shining characteristics come out in Brian, as he begins to hallucinate and lose his mind at what's going on around him. It shares the same dark descent that Torrence experiences, and it makes for a great watch and fun journey. The interaction between Brian and the cop becomes a highlight of the movie as the slow moving story begins to climb and climb. Anna (played by Jaymie Valentine), on the other hand, pretty much feels like she's just there to be a buffer for Brian, and doesn't really feel like she plays much of a significant role besides being there for her friend. Nothing really memorable from the film comes from Anna, but I totally get why she's there.
So in an attempt to not give away the strong, epic plot twist Dry Blood delivers, I'll just say this: the hallucinations Brian experiences are straight out of a fucking nightmare - from a living corpse in the kitchen to a headless girl pushing her way into the bedroom to evil eyes glowing in the background, Brian is experiencing some shit. And in all regards, the team behind the film managed to make each hallucination more haunting than the last, and it's pretty great. But remember, you just have to sit through some slow moving story to get there, so just hang in there. Not every movie has to continuously bombard you with haunt after haunt - and Dry Blood is proof that cleverly placed and properly executed haunts are worth the wait. As far as the acting and cinematography go - to be honest, it's nothing to write home about, but it's nothing to trash on either. The acting did its job to portray the characters - but I'll admit that it is worth noting that Clint Carney's portrayal of Brian in the second half of the film is notable: he does a pretty good job at depicting the mental deterioration you might expect from a recovering addict. Dry Blood is definitely not for everybody - I don't think your average movie-goer horror viewer will appreciate just how sick and twisted Dry Blood really is, and honestly they might even tune out before it gets to where it goes. However, those horror fans who are looking for a fix of something outrageous and dark, Dry Blood will undoubtedly hit a high note for you, and you'll appreciate the downward spiral Dry Blood takes you down. My final verdict on this is that it is definitely worth your time; it may not be worth buying, but for a late night watch, it's worth renting, for sure. This one will shock the shit out of you with its terror.