What in the world am I watching? That was my initial thought at the beginning of Blood, Sweat and Terrors, a film anthology featuring several short films on varying topics. One common element of all the stories is that they all delve into violence during their run. Some with great success, and some that turned out to be so surreal and dark that my wife had to leave the room due to fear of nightmares. Let me tell ya, at one point I considered joining her. To its credit, not all the short films are that deranged, and after a while it was like having my very own film festival in my living room.
Blood, Sweat and Terrors
Posted in: No Huddle by Jeremy Butler on November 8th, 2018
The films started off rocky, especially with that first story, which could have done with a great deal more backstory and less with the fish demon wearing a mask of human skin cursing the lead character. I also don’t think that should have been the opening short, as it set the wrong tone for the film overall. After watching that, I found myself questioning how I was gonna set through 98 minutes of this level of insanity.
However gradually, the content of the shorts began to improve. I would say the turning point was Express Delivery; with this short, there was a improvement in the dialog between the two characters, the fight scene was better choreographed, and there were multiple plot twists. It was by far one of my favorites in the collection. Additionally, as the anthology went on, I came to see a couple of familiar faces, including Warren Brown (BBCs Luther and the latest incarnation of Strike Back), John Hannah (The Mummy) and David Leitch (The Mechanic). That again spoke to the quality of their respective segments.
That was not a guarantee that their short would rate above the other segments, as my favorite short (Olga) featured unknowns, or at least they were unknown to me. Olga laid out a revenge tale where a woman wronged by a crime boss seeks to make him pay for his transgressions against her and her family. Normally I’m not much for foreign dialog tales, as the whole thing is spoken in Russian, but there are subtitles, and the caliber of the fight scene speaks for itself.
Truthfully there are two stories that if removed that would have helped the likability of this disc. Empire of Dirt was just too surreal and dark to follow. The story line of a man being forced to avenge a wronged victim gets lost in comparison with the gore of the face mask, snakes, tentacles. Those aspects needed to be toned down, plus the story just felt incomplete and needed to be brought to a better conclusion. In regards to Jacobs Wrath, it was too convoluted. I understand it was attempting to speak to the internal struggle of the main character’s decision to seek vengeance, but there were too many swift cuts between reality and the internal struggle. Just as I began to get a handle on one, I was thrust into another.
Basically, Blood, Sweat and Terrors isn’t going to be anything that you can sit down and watch with your kids, but with a name like that, why would you think you could? However, there are a couple of quality shorts that fans of action will thoroughly enjoy. My advice is to ride out the first few shorts, don’t let them discourage you; keep watching, and you’ll see that with every new segment the quality goes up until you are left with a several worthwhile shorts. I don’t want to label the initial ones as terrible, so I will just say they weren’t for me. Don’t tune out because of one or two that aren’t for you.