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Review: Dry Blood – “A surreal horror-thriller murder mystery”

DRY BLOOD is a surreal horror-thriller murder mystery directed by Kelton Jones (Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp’s cinematographer) and written by Clint Carney (Star Trek: Into Darkness’s art department). Jones and Carney also both star, alongside Jaymie Valentine (Atomic Skeletons) and Robert V. Galluzzo (Return to Sleepaway Camp and the excellent Shock Waves horror podcast).

Brian (Carney) is a polydrug addict, who after waking up in his veered-off-the-road car with no memory of the night before decides now is certainly a good time to get clean. Arranging to meet an old supportive friend, Anna (Valentine), at the lodge he still co-owns with his ex-wife, Brian leaves L.A. for White Deer Mountain – an out of season ski resort – on a mission to get clean.

Already struggling through a cold turkey comedown, Brian’s loose and fluid grip on reality is weakened still by the mind games of a sinister local Sheriff (Jones) and the handful of random pills he takes to try and even himself out before Anna arrives. Brian is soon experiencing horrific visions that may or may not be real, and will leave himself and Anna fighting for their lives in the isolated mountain getaway.

Credited only as “Cop”, Kelton Jones’ dodgy lawman is an excellent villain who comes over like a cross between The Ranger and a Super Trooper – lurking, tailing and intimidating Brian, as well as psyching him out by saying things to him and then saying “What?” when Brian responds, pretending that he didn’t say a word. It’s a horrible but brilliant under-the-skin routine that gives the film a memorable real-world human baddie.

Brian’s “hallucinations” are purely visceral though. Disturbing jump scare smash cuts to a Shining-esque mouldy woman, a terrifying half-exposed skull lady and a decapitated little girl give the film jolts of pure fear and them being real, not CG, makes them twice as effective thanks to great and horrid work by special makeup effects artists Chad Engel (Looper) and Sioux Sinclair (96 Souls).

The score augments the whole thing nicely. Industrial electro beats and sweeps that invest energy and add production value are provided by Carney’s band System Syn. Carney’s acting performance sometimes veers into OTT histrionics though, and this is not helped by some dialogue scenes that run long and would be better served by not being done in single takes. This and an ending that lasts just two shots too long threaten to sap the film’s verve, but its fractured timeline still comes together in a really satisfying way.

Dry Blood will be available on DVD, Blu-Ray and on demand everywhere on the 15th of January.

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