From the writers of Power Rangers R.P.M. and The Tigger Movie comes a wildly morbid and original film: Blood Punch. While its pedigree may sound a bit too kiddie for a horror film, you’ll never see Blood Punch on the Disney Channel, oh no. It’s a twisted and clever film that’s been kicking much ass on the festival circuit and just last week it damn near blew the roof off of the screening I caught at the Mile High Horror Film Festival. It’s like a supernatural film noir on meth, with heaps of dark humor and a madcap edge that cuts deep. And as its name suggests, Blood Punch is a very, very bloody affair.
Much of what makes director Madellaine Paxson’s film such a blast is experiencing the curveballs as they come at you, so I won’t reveal too much of the sharp plot. Milo (Milo Cawthorne) is a brilliant and sweet guy whose knack for cooking meth led him to a drug rehabilitation center. There he’s tempted by pseudo femme fatale Skyler (Olivia Tennet), a chain-smoking harlet with a filthy mouth and silver tongue. She convinces Milo to bust outta rehab and flee with her to a secluded cabin where he’ll cook meth for one day, for one big pay off. Feeling an attraction to Skyler he can’t shake, Milo signs on for this wholly crazy scheme. The only problem is Skyler’s boyfriend, Russell (Ari Boyland), a psychopath she affectionately refers to as “the devil.”
Well, Russell isn’t really the only problem. The cabin was once the site of an epic Native American war, where the full moon raged for an entire month. The blood spilled there left a bit of a paranormal mark on the joint.
From the moment they arrive at the cabin, Russell sets Milo on edge – explaining how much he adores guns and admitting he knows Milo and Skyler knocked boots in rehab (awkward!). From this point forward, Blood Punch makes you second guess everything you thought you already had figured out. Russell is not as dumb as he seems, Skyler is not as one-dimensional as she seems, Milo is not getting played the way he seems, and the cabin is not what it seems. The film frequently toys with your expectations like a kid in a sandbox – building little structures then smashing them up.
Milo’s first hint that things are way, way off is when he awakes to find a video of himself he doesn’t remember recording in which he chops two of his fingers off. But Milo has all his fingers? Blood Punch is full of reality distorting moments like this, but it never feels like writer Eddie Guzelian is trying to outsmart us or yelling “Gotcha!” in our faces. As wild as the story gets, it flows very organically. The only instance where it feels like they’re maybe getting too absurd is when their drug buyer is introduced. Blood Punch sharply veers off its course there. However, considering how much it’s played with our expectations up to this point, it’s easy to overlook the craziness of this scene.
All three main actors are alumni of New Zealand’s version of the Power Rangers and their history truly shows on screen. The chemistry between them all is so thick you could cut with a hatchet (a weapon utilized heavily in the film). They all get their turn to shine as well, without hogging the spotlight. This is an ensemble film, for sure. Ari Boyland does a solid job playing the (heavily armed) prep school bully from hell. His biting delivery is unnerving, giving the sense he could take your head off at any moment. With a smile, of course. Olivia Tennet brings the heat with a seductively rugged performance and Milo Cawthorne anchors them all as the tight-lipped voice of reason (except when he’s losing his mind).
Darkly comedic with a seriously warped set of sensibilities, Blood Punch takes us down the road to hell, which here is paved with blood and meth (with some peyote as a stiff chaser). It’s fun as hell and smart enough to pull all the right moves without rubbing its twists in your face. There’s a film noir from 1948 called Road House (no relation to the Swayze throat ripper) about a violent love triangle that implodes at a secluded cabin. Blood Punch reminded me a bit of that classic, but in broad daylight with a Twilight Zone affection for screwing with our minds. It’s a helluva trip.
Blood Punch is currently without a distributor, which will hopefully be remedied soon because genre fans need this movie in their eyeballs, ASAP.