Blood Immortal (directed and written by Robert Joseph Butler) is a vampire film that uses horror elements in a way which allows it to explore deeper issues than you would initially expect. I admit to expecting plenty of blood sucking and brooding here, instead at times the topics it covered felt all too real and as a result became interesting to watch. This works almost as an anthology, three interconnected stories taking place in America's past, present, and future.
At some point in the 1800's a land prospector, Mr. Duncan (Richard Tyson - Black Hawk Down, Battlefield Earth) arrives at the remote home of recently widowed Josephine (Aphrodite Nikolovski - Agramon's Gate) and her daughter Eliza (Julie Kline - Mimesis Nosferatu) with an offer. Perhaps due to recognising Josephine is dying he reveals he is a vampire and turns her, expecting her fealty.
In modern day, the vampire Fiona (Jordan Trovillion - Jack Reacher) attends night classes in which she befriends her economics lecturer, lonely Patricia (Erika Hoveland - Before I Wake). This, set against a backdrop of a world on the brink of disaster due to rising pollution and impending economic collapse.
Then in the near future we return to Josephine and Eliza who are struggling to survive in a world where law and order has nearly ceased to be and in which desperate people resort to desperate methods.
It was interesting to show the decline of mankind from the perspective of immortals, and it was interesting to see how issues affecting us all today could change into via a 'what-if' version of the future. This isn't a tertiary look either, the middle segment features plenty of discourse between Fiona and her lecturer (a class that Fiona excels in due to having conveniently lived the past being examined). The theme is of breakdown and how that is poisoning humanity, from pollution, to increasing self centered ruthlessness. This can be seen literally with the afflictions drinking polluted blood has on the vampires, who wish to shape mankind for everyone's benefit. There is a hopelessness and inevitability to the overarching story, both in how it can be seen where the world is going and the vampires inability to stop this, and with the addiction to blood that is the root of many problems for them.
This was very female centric, and empowering in a way, the only male characters of any note being the vicious Mr. Duncan and the appearance of an angry father in the third act (whose name I sadly didn't catch). It isn't so much that it feels like man-hating, more that they are not integral to the story in any meaningful form, after all, the vampires with the exception of the first act are all females. Aside from characters dressing in black there isn't really a Gothic feel here. The first act was the shortest, and due to the modest set I imagine there wasn't the scope or budget to make more of this. I found the second act to be the most involved, I liked the chemistry between Trovillion and Hoveland, and I also liked the resigned conclusion that story comes to. The third act gets maybe a little cartoon like (a world in which things are run by criminals, replete with obligatory fight club sequences). I liked how economics is one of the uniting themes themes throughout, and how this almost plays out in the background while the foreground features these little stories that felt almost 'slice of life' in the downbeat places they go to.
The vampires have fangs, these looked decent enough, that is all that is used. Things can get bloody at times with some decent looking neck biting going on, the blood had a tendency to look a little bit like jam on occasion, a bit too thick rather than runny. Mostly though the make-up effects were decent. The horror was slight here but I didn't mind due to the different feel the movie had.
There isn't high action or high horror with Blood Immortal, it does however achieve something quite unique, using the horror elements as a springboard and an excuse to be able to logically chart different periods of American human society, and with the way this year has gone it feels strangely timely. Blood Immortal arrived on DVD on October 20th, it will be available at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Barnes and Nobles, Deep Discount, and on Amazon.