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New Release Review (VOD) - BLOOD BROTHERS

Two half-brothers plot the murder of a waitress in order to prove their intellectual superiority.






Review by Sue Finn (@fountainclown)

Directed by: Jose Prendes

Starring: Graham Denman, Jon Klondelik, Hannah Levien, Barbara Crampton, Ken Foree, Lynn Lowry



Director Jose Prendes makes excellent work of rendering intriguing characters that are nuanced and whole. His film is stylistically lush, what with the comic book lighting and framing giving certain scenes an almost surreal feel. He is happy to be interpretive rather than literal; less exposition, more mood.


Charles and Thomas have a plan – to commit a murder that demonstrates their superiority over the rest of the human race. Half-brothers with the same bedridden drunk mother who shares their home with them, they spend their days plotting the murder over breakfast at their local diner. Like some sort of skewed odd couple they finish each other’s sentences and food, spend all their time together and are seemingly inordinately pre-occupied with each other’s lives. Each finds taunting lesser humans entertaining, as witnessed by the opening sequence in which they bet paltry sums of money to see if a junkie in their employment will crush one of his fingers for a bigger ‘fix’.  Bachelors ostensibly by choice, they are each other’s closest companion, the co-dependence obvious from the first frame.


Into this maelstrom of testosterone and bristling arrogant intellectualism comes single mother Genevieve (pronounced ‘Jean–Vi-Ev’ she insists pretentiously), the waitress at the diner they frequent who has taken a shine to the quieter, introspective Charles. In her ‘goodness’, gregarious Thomas sees the victim he has been searching for, and the blossoming romance between Charles and Genevieve does nothing to dampen his enthusiastic belief that she must be the one. The events that occur from that point on are unexpected, to say the least. Will they commit the perfect crime? Who will their victim be? What will be the aftermath? And what’s with the police detective who’s also a medium??

In 1941, convinced of their superior intelligence, and in an effort to commit the ‘perfect crime’, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb kidnapped and murdered a 14-year-old boy in Chicago. This true story is the inspiration behind Blood Brothers (formerly ‘The Divine Tragedies’), and though it only bares the slimmest of connections, the inspiration is enough to inform the rest of the movie and give it an edge over other indie horrors of the same ilk.

It is the same true story that inspired Hitchcock’s Rope in 1948, the horror behind coldly intellectual killers clearly a fascinating one to film-makers if not film-goers (Rope was an unfortunate commercial failure, despite its excellence).


Though obviously not of the caliber of Hitchcock, there is much to enjoy here. Director Jose Prendes (The Haunting of Whaley House) makes excellent work of rendering intriguing characters that are nuanced and whole – not that common in a horror. His film is stylistically lush, what with the comic book lighting and framing giving certain scenes an almost surreal feel. He is happy to be interpretive rather than literal; less exposition, more mood. The soundtrack is hilariously melodramatic and muscular, adding to the strange theatricality of some moments.

The violent scenes are visceral and effective, nastier than expected and often coming out of left field, which I enjoyed immensely.

There is humour here too, and tongue in cheek in-jokes such as when the angry brother is driving away from a particularly troublesome quarrel only to have literal smoke curling out from under his collar as he drives into the extravagantly colorful night.

The script is taut and fun, though the psychic cop is perhaps a bridge too far; even if the wonderful Ken Foree almost sells it with his casual and hip turn.


As performances go, the acting is top notch. Hannah Levien as Genevieve is sweet and convincing as the selected ‘victim’, and Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator) does some nice work as the mother who’s just that little bit more off-kilter than originally suspected; but the film relies, as it must, on the brothers and how well they are cast. Luckily, Prendes has found two powerhouses in Graham Denman (Charles) and Jon Klondelik (Thomas). Both actors excel here, bringing their A game in committed performances that breath life into these maniacal, frivolous, sociopathic killers. They are fully engaged, excellent turns, and the film would not work as well as it did without them.

All in all, I found this little movie to be odd, stylish, funny, gory and cool, much better than some other higher-budget genre films.

If you only see one film about sociopathic brothers planning to murder a waitress this year, make it this one.

Blood Brothers is on VOD now.





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