Bad Blood (2006) Review

5 out of 10 Skulls
Written by: jmh314   

Sometimes a film comes along in the horror genre that has a following that seems too good to be true. Often times this is found with foreign horror films as film's home countries may possibly be providing many biased reviews when reviewing their country's respective work. I believe such is the case with Bad Blood, better known as Coisa Ruim in it's native Portugal. Bad Blood was a film being touted as "the best Portuguese film ever" and "A break-through in the Portuguese films industry" and it even won Best Film at Portugal's Golden Globes. Not to be completely disrespectful, but if this is the "best Portuguese film ever" than I wonder what kind of state their film industry is in anyways. Bad Blood is billed as a supernatural horror film. Unfortunately it is a boring affair that has little to do with the supernatural and is more about the possibilities of the supernatural, if that even makes sense.

The story of Bad Blood revolves around a family who inherits a big old house in the country. The father, despite objections form his whole family, decides for the family to leave the city life in Lisbon to live in the desolate countryside. Once they arrive in their new village, they soon begin to learn that it is an area filled with superstition. Old folklore and tales of exorcisms, hauntings, and mysterious happenings run rampant through the lands. The family, who's mother and father are a doctor and a professor, seem to look at everything in a more logical way than the locals. But soon the superstitions begin to haunt the family, especially as they learn their new house has a creepy folklore behind it. The family begins to suffer from their own types of paranoia, but is this a matter of actually being haunted by the supernatural or just being paranoid into thinking these superstitions may actually exist?

Bad Blood's story is meant to be a thinking man's storyline, but there isnt much to even think about. It is a generic storyline in the scope of The Messengers or The Haunting, but it moves as slowly as an M. Night Shyamalan film. The slow build wouldn't be a problem if it had a resolution, but it doesn't lead anywhere. The first hour is pure dialog trying to build a story, but it doesn't lead to any sort of payoff. The tension that is created is meant to be achieved by telling folklore that comes off sounding like bad campfire stories. The stories take a religious turn as everything is tried to be explained by the perspective of the Catholic church as compared with rational explanations. The whole slow and philosophical storyline build to an ending that feels rushed and really is disjointed from where the film could have gone. The ending splits two ways, and neither of them are satisfy the films slow-building plot.

The saving grace of this film is that despite the films slow-build and lack of any interesting plot, it still keeps ones attention. Part of the reason it kept my attention was that I hoped it was all leading somewhere. Since this wasn't the case, I've concluded that the cinematography was a big part in holding my interest. Bad Blood was a beautifully shot film. From the moment the opening credits started you could tell the film would be visually satisfying. It had that creepy, washed out abandoned countryside feel, but did so in an artfully atmospheric way.

The acting was fairly decent, but not much was really needed of the actors. For a film that is primarily all dialog, none of the actors do anything to truly stand out. It is a lot of emotionless banter, and the dialog that did have emotion was hardly done to be remembered. Some of the acting does get repetitive as we get lots of older village ladies repeating prayers over and over during hauntings and exorcisms.

If it weren't for the cinematography and my hope that this slow building story was leading somewhere, I probably wouldn't have finished it. I stuck it out hoping for some sort of reasonable finish but in the end wasn't rewarded for my trouble. It may have looked wonderful, but the whole film is just flat and does a terrible job setting any type of real thrills. Considering there are exorcisms, hauntings, and spiritual séances, it does nothing to make these sequences have any sort of disturbing tension or relevance on the overall experience. In the end, I feel really cheap for being tricked into thinking I'd be watching a horror film. The wonderful cinematography isnt enough to change the fact that the only real horror I found in Bad Blood is the large amounts of positive reviews for this film. The fact that this is considered one of Portugal's best films is indeed scary as it doesnt live up to it's hype. In fact, the only thing Bad Blood lives up to it's use of the word "bad" in it's title.
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