Blood (2000)

An unconventional vampire movie from Sheffield, Blood has many interesting ideas and is unusually well-acted for something produced this far out of the mainstream but perhaps diffuses its effects by running a good reel or two after it has made all its points (an American release was severely pruned). Nevertheless, it is a major achievement from a British horror fringe usually typified by the likes of Beg! and Razor Blade Smile.

Twenty-year-old Lix (Lee Blakemore) has spent fifteen years in captivity, chained and exploited by three former lab technicians who have spirited her away from the genetics institute where she was created. Lix is the result of an experiment to produce a strain of humanity with an altered blood type which would not only be resistant to all forms of disease but which would in transfusion cure others. However, she is effectively a vampire who needs to be fed with a disproportionate amount of regular human blood to survive – and her blood provides a heroin-like high when ingested, prompting the former techs to run a lucrative criminal enterprise around milking her. Carl Dyson (Adrian Rawlins), who was once in charge of the experiment, rescues Lix from the drug trade and takes her home to his detached suburban house, where she tentatively fits in with his young son and understanding wife (Elizabeth Marmur). However, as he continues to work in the hope of rendering Lix normal, Carl is tempted to sample her blood and becomes addicted, not just to the drug but the girl herself, which drives his wife and son away. Together, the couple descend into squalor and an all-white ideal home becomes a bloodied mess. Carl slowly loses control, alienating a lecture audience with a blissed-out drug rant and a collapse, and Lix needs more blood, progressing from hijacking a hospital delivery to committing a string of vampire murders. Her original captors try to reclaim her but fail, though Carl's last friend - an ex-addict social worker who has helped with the rescue - is killed in the battle. Finally, in a unique vampire movie finale, Lix allows her ostensible victim to drink too much of her blood and dies in his bed, leaving him to take the blame for the string of killings.

The strengths of Blood are its interesting characterisations and effective performances, with Rawlins and Blakemore exposing themselves literally and metaphorically as they venture into a shared madness without succumbing to real evil, retaining their good intentions and cracked ideals even as bodies start piling up around them. Also powerful is the contrast of the bloody business with Carl's everyday family life and suburban circumstances (he finances his rescue of Lix off the back of a popular science best-seller and continuing corporate work). Director-writer Charly Cantor lets some scenes play too long, but the intermingling of affection, altruism, love and addiction in the central relationship is unusual, powerfully-played and sticks in the memory.

First published in this form here.

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