The Movie Waffler New Release Review (VOD) - FAKE BLOOD | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (VOD) - FAKE BLOOD

fake blood movie review
Two horror filmmakers set out to make a film questioning the relationship between screen violence and its real life counterpart.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Rob Grant

Starring: Chelsey Reist, Mike Kovac, Jacqueline Breakwell, Rob Grant

fake blood movie poster

Do violent movies cause violence? And if they do, how much responsibility should the filmmakers shoulder? How aware should the filmmakers be of the consequences of their choice to indulge in our most base interests and desires?

These are not easy questions, and ones that horror fans and filmmakers have likely struggled with to varying degrees over the years.

Fake Blood is a mockumentary that sets out to tackle those questions while at the same time making a meta movie about how the investigation of those questions and indeed the mockumentary itself caused possible ‘real life’ crimes.

The film begins with the actual filmmaker Rob Grant informing us that he needs to go back and explain why he and long-time best friend and filmmaking colleague Mike Kovac aren’t on speaking terms.

After a montage of all the violent scenes from their actual two major film projects and smaller lesser-known projects, he starts at the very beginning of their friendship where we see their student films, learn how they grew up and discuss their earlier film making attempts - ‘Yesterday’, described as a super low budget and slightly embarrassing zombie movie (though it looked good to me!) and ‘Mon Ami’, a mix of horror buddy comedy with Fargo elements.

fake blood movie

They receive a disturbing fan movie based on the central conceit of Mon Ami - disposing of a body after an ‘accidental’ murder. This inspires them to think about their roles and responsibilities with regards to movie violence and they decide to investigate this subject as their next movie (which is the mockumentary we are currently watching).

They head off to a gun range with an actor they have previously used in their films, and have a surprisingly honest discussion about hunting, and then an equally interesting one about filmmakers' penchant for avoiding blood in their films to appeal to a wider audience and achieve a wider release. The question over whether this sanitising is actually healthy or just repackaging violence in a more palatable way is an important one, and no easy answers are offered here, just more questions to ask yourself.

Clips from the big screen films they are discussing are shown throughout these scenes, and they certainly make what could have been just talking heads far more visually appealing, while also lending another touch of reality to this film. These are movies we’ve all seen, but I wasn’t aware of the role of ‘blood’ in classifications and how some films show none in order to make more money.

At the gun range there is talk on how ridiculously large some guns on film are, how there seems to be barely any recoil, and how heroes walk away from gun fights as if a powerful weapon weren’t just wreaking havoc in their hands.

Wanting to experience true violence, Rob decides to head to his local dojo and have an actual fight with his friend. It lasts 60 seconds and ends in a knockout. Rob describes the disorienting sensation of being hit and going down; but they are dissatisfied and want to explore the type of violence they feature in their films - the kind where people die.

They place a phone call to a friend who had spent some time around criminals and are fascinated by his statement of how normal these people can appear; with their secrets of brutality hidden deep inside, you might never know the violence they conceal.

fake blood movie

This is good material, but still not enough. Rob, clearly growing more and more compelled by his subject matter, wants to speak to someone who has actually committed violent crimes, and through various connections they finally find their man and set up a (paid) meeting in a parking garage.

They interview this man (with his image blurred), who goes by the name of John; he answers their questions reluctantly and belligerently, continually warning them off investigating any further as they “don’t want to mess with the men in the organisation he works for” and “they don’t know what they are getting themselves into.” Eventually he ‘softens’ enough to tell them a story of regret involving an unpaid debt and an innocent woman who was murdered against his intentions. While he is sharing this tale we see a recreation of the events, and then the actors in the recreation are interviewed regarding their first encounter with violence. Now we are so far down the rabbit hole I’m not sure exactly what’s supposed to be real.

Ignoring John’s advice of caution, they travel to interview the brother of the victim in John's story, who is understandably still angry six years after the crime. His raw response to their queries, his tangible pain in contrast to their abstract musings, adds another strand of authenticity to this genuinely difficult subject.

While Mike at this point feels they have gone off track and are entering dangerous territory, Rob keeps digging, to his own detriment. He finds the transcripts of the crime for which John escaped punishment. The scene of Rob and Mike listening to the tape is one of the most chilling sequences I’ve seen in a while; it made me feel both sick and sad.

It is utterly horrific in its brutality.

A week later and there is a break-in at Rob’s home, and when police are told of their violent film project, the filmmakers are told to leave their homes for their own safety, as the gang taskforce cannot locate John.

This is when the film slows right down and focusses instead on the fallout of Rob and Mike's once super tight friendship before a low-key but disturbing end.

fake blood movie

Unfortunately the ending arrives swiftly and just when things are getting more compelling; I wanted at least another half an hour and a lot more to happen with the filmmakers. Though the finale makes sense and has a strong sense of reality, it lacks the stomach punch I was pulling for.

What I truly enjoy about this film are the recreations that accompanied the stories and memories of brushes with violence; they are well done and give immediacy to what we are hearing.

Grant and Kovac also manage to create a pervasive sense of authentic dread, the kind you feel in your gut, and tension that makes you yell at the screen.

It has some honest things to say about Americans' obsession with guns and violence, and their squeamishness when it comes to nudity compared to violence.

It’s all very convoluted, and occasionally confusing, but it’s an admirable quest shown in a unique fashion that I found made me question my own complicity and how far our fascination with the taboo can take us. Refusing to take a side, Fake Blood just asks the questions, and for that, it earns my admiration. I just wish the ending had been stronger.

Fake Blood is on VOD February 13th.