Morbid Colors is the latest film from writer/director Matthew Packman (Margo) which at its heart is like a character study of two sisters, wrapped up as a road movie. The horror aspect that forms the core of this is only ever suggested with no actual evidence to support the claims of the main character. Whether the affliction is real or imagined though this was still an authentic feeling, gritty and grimy picture that was consistent in its style from beginning to end.
Myca (Kara Gray) has returned to her small hometown after running away to the city some time previously. She's a former drug addict and a waster, yet has a firm friend in the form of her younger adopted sister, Devin (Lanae Hyneman). She also happens to have a whole new problem to deal with, as she believes she has an affliction that requires her to drink blood to survive, and holds a woman she met in the city as the one responsible for causing this. Together the two sisters head out on a road trip in order to hunt down the woman Myca sees as ruining her life.
Road movie films are often quite enjoyable in the way they flow, and that is true of Morbid Colors. The travelling across the country leads to various little mini stories playing out. Both the protagonists are messed up in their own right. Myca is self serving, bullying and nasty, unable to accept responsibility for the problems in her life. With an alcoholic mother and an abusive childhood she feels she never got a chance in life to be a good person. Devin is far more mild mannered when it comes to the siblings relationship with each other, and while she is shown to be able to really stick up for herself, when it comes to Myca she would follow her to the ends of the Earth. Both actresses were great in their roles, managing to be captivating leads without being nice or relatable ones. The rest of the cast are mostly fine, there were a couple in minor roles whose acting I didn't think was the best, but they only get small screen time.
The film is split into two acts. Green is the first one and this takes place in the home town of the two girls. This sets up the personalities of the two, as well as provides the wooly motivation for why they go off on Myca's bizarre quest. Violet is the second chapter and takes up the majority of the 100 minute film. The film looks retro in the way it was shot. The low quality camera really adds so much to what at times felt quite grindhouse, but not in a schlocky way. The journey felt quite raw in its look, with dirty and grimy locations that the two punks fit into well. The characters they meet along the way all fitted into a certain type of miscreant. While there is plenty of violence along the journey the actual horror part of Myca believing herself to be some type of vampire is slight. She has a craving for blood, but there is no unrealistic vampire like parts to this like an aversion to sunlight, or fangs. The fact that she often vomits up the blood she believes she requires points to the fact that this could be no real condition. There is never any questioning or examination into what is actually wrong with her, instead Devin's loyalty to her means it really doesn't matter if Myca belief is real or in her damaged mind.
Feel good this may not be, nor is it really possible to relate to the disillusioned and unhappy lead characters. However, underneath all the misery the pair face there is the truth of the bond the two share. Small moments crop up that show the genuine and often understated affection of the sisters. It is to the credit of Packman that he carves into Morbid Colors a heart that at a quick glance it would appear to lack. The world of the film may be a cold and brutal place but its protagonists display the humanity and bonds that shared experiences form.