“Angry souls will do just about anything to escape their tortured purgatories. That’s why they say no rest for the wicked.”
And there’s no rest for Bloody Mary. That’s a good thing for us. We get treated to a rather sweet little bloody film from the folks at Lionsgate called Blood Night. It’s a better film than you might think on first look. It never betrays its independent spirit, but that doesn’t mean it has to sacrifice a good look and entertaining romp. The acting is all above average for a budget bloodbath. It’s a little Lizzy Borden mixed with some familiar elements from other recent horror films to create a bit of horror comfort food. It might not be good for you, and it certainly isn’t going to claim any position as a classic. But it goes down nice and easy and leaves you feeling a little satisfied when it’s all over.
Bloody Mary or Mary Hatchet (Facchi) has become a bit of a local legend. As a young girl she took an axe to her parents and spent the rest of her life in an asylum where she was abused and impregnated by a guard. An escape led to her demise, and that was the end of Mary, but not her legend. Now the local teens relish her story and treat the anniversary of her murders as a holiday complete with costumes, pranks and especially parties. It’s basically Halloween. A group of teens on their way to a party for “Blood Night” as the locals call the day, stop at her grave with a Ouija board and a lot of booze. It looks like this is going to be another horror movie spirit wake-up call, and this girl is cranky when she gets up. After a stern warning from local cook Graveyard Gus (Moseley), the teens are off to party, but Mary’s going to crash the party…literally.
The movie plays with all of the fun conventions. Director Frank Sabatella is obviously a fan, and those make the best genre movie makers. As his cast tells us in the extras, he’s not just making a quickie horror film on his way to “bigger and better” things. His love is on display with every frame. You won’t have to look hard to come up with all sorts of homage moments to the classics. Graveyard Gus is wearing clothes that look like direct copies of those warn by lovable Crazy Ralph from the Friday The 13th franchise. The fact that the part is played by Bill Moseley is also a wonderfully nostalgic touch and brilliant casting. Bill’s been in some wonderful genre films and has become a fan favorite over the years. Danielle Harris is a more recent horror favorite who works amazingly well in this movie as Alissa, a rather annoying character at first. Give her time, and she’s going to go from one of the most lame scenes in the film to a rather compelling and unexpected high point. That low point involves a very bad story about a mouse. I was honestly about to write the film off at that point; Blood Night proves that sometimes if you stay with it you are rewarded. Danielle gets my vote for turnaround character of the year. The cast also includes Eliza Dushku’s older brother Nate and a pretty hot performance by Samantha Facchi as the titular Bloody Mary in her teen and vengeful sprit years.
Blood Night is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1. Sabatella delivers quite a nice cinematic style for just a few dollars in the budget. The movie looks like it has studio production values. Colors are rich, and the film has a very natural look to it. Unfortunately, black levels are the only thing that weaken the image presentation. There are compression issues, and many of the necessary darker scenes don’t provide a great deal of detail or shadow definition. This is one low-budget film I wouldn’t mind seeing in high definition.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track isn’t terribly aggressive in the surround department, but the sound design itself is quite atmospheric. Of course, it does tend to get a little loud in the party music area, and I did have a hard time following the dialog once or twice.
The Making Of Blood Night: (7:18) Cast and crew mostly tell the story of the film and offer the usual praise for each other. It might be the typical love-fest, but I found this one a bit more sincere than usual.
Interviews With: Frank Sabatella (5:11), Bill Moseley (5:11), Danielle Harris (5:05), Bill Magnussen (2:21) (Who couldn’t be bothered to put away the gum while he talked), Nate Dushku (2:27) and Alissa Dean (8:15) (I think she got the most time because she is quite animated).
Who would have guessed that this is Sabatella’s first feature film? He appears to have a natural feel for the atmosphere. The film does tend to slow down at parts, and it’s here in the pacing that his inexperience shows most. But he does a smashing good job with his production values and getting the best out of his cast. The fact that he interested Harris and Moseley says something for the respect he’s quickly earned. They didn’t deliver paycheck performances where names often do small parts for small films for a quick buck. They are both fully invested in the film and their characters. That kind of casting also brings out better performances in the young actors who all stepped up their game. I’m looking forward to his next film. Hey Frank, “You wanna come out and play?”