Film Review: Bloodline (2018)

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SYNOPSIS:

Evan values family above all else, and anyone who gets between him, his wife, and newborn son learns that the hard way. But when it comes to violent tendencies, it seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

REVIEW:

Seann William Scott is a very good actor. His portrayal of Stifler in the “American Pie” films imprinted on my brain an image of someone I’d cross the road to avoid. Yes, that is punishing the actor for a character. Had the same issue with Kiefer Sutherland after “Stand By Me”, but, now, he is one of my favorite actors. It just takes the right role to break that initial impression.

“Bloodline” is a definite change of pace from most of his previous roles. Basically, he dumps the goofy comedy and goes for emotionless vengeance.

Evan counsels high school students. Some kids are just needing a little emotional support. Others are fighting against monsters who claim to be family. The abusers who break young spirits.

At home, his wife has just given birth to their first child, and the nights are as sleepless as the days are busy. The routine of sleep deprivation and hearing tales of sexual assault or beatings wears thin his grasp of what is the right way to make everything better.

Out come the knives and lives are ruined as well as ended.

With a description like that, you could easily dismiss the film. Vigilante, blah, blah, blah. Fortunately, “Bloodline” has a different agenda.

Evan actually has a history that the first half of the film hints at but doesn’t discuss in much detail until close to the halfway point of the film. During the first half, Evan finds himself staring intently at a black sports bag he keeps in the garage. The film holds back, letting the fact he turns to this bag when his stress is hitting unmanageable levels to communicate the situation is reaching a point of no return. He has visions of a violent attack, of a body being buried.

As if a newborn child, sleepless nights, and abused students are not enough for the young couple, Evan’s mother inserts herself into the family to help. Lauren, Evan’s wife, does not like Marie, the mother. She can sense the attachment between mother and child is far different than it is for most families. To seal that suspicion, Lauren accidentally catches Marie kissing Evan full on the lips.

Even with all that weirdness, the whole story has not even started to be revealed.

“Bloodline” keeps the plot and characters moving so that the film plays out like a low-level chess game. When will Laura realize her marriage is not as simple as she thought? What does Marie and Evan’s unusual connection mean to the future of Lauren’s child and family? Where does Evan disappear to in the late hours? What is in that black sports bag? Why does Marie keep attempting to watch the TV with the baby when Lauren has asked her not to?

Most fans of horror films will want to know if the violence is brutal. Yes. Most of the kills seem to be practical effects, but how they pulled off some of the knife work is baffling if not CGI. Copious amounts of blood spray, and intestines are mauled. There aren’t many kills, but those you see are fast and gruesome.

The kills are simply icing on a very tasty cake. “Bloodline” does an excellent job of examining the idea of family and the connections within a family. We learn that Evan has a very clear sense of what is and is not acceptable when it comes to family, whether it be his own or someone else’s. With the birth of his son, Evan takes his commitment far beyond the norm, and, like it or not, Marie, Lauren, and infant Andrew are all involved.

The entire cast does an excellent job. Dale Dickey is consistently wonderful, even when she plays an unlikeable character. Marie is problematic until you understand the full story behind her relationship with her child. Even then, the character can be off-putting as both she and Evan have some serious limit control issues to work through.

Seann William Scott plays Evan as mostly emotionless. It fits the character for a number of reasons, but the emotionlessness isn’t an easy cop-out. Evan is deeply conflicted on many emotional, mental, and practical levels, and he is a very committed individual, as well. Combine those character traits, and the person becomes a walking time bomb, which brings us back to the black sports bag. Evan must release the pent-up tensions in his world so that he can function normally around those most important in his life. Scott may play things a touch flat, but he does exhibit the conflicts that are pulling the character in alternating directions quite well.

“Bloodline” is a well-put-together thriller that manages to do well in all the areas that make for a watchable and entertaining horror film. While there is a question of one phone call that could unravel the whole resolution to the story, the film keeps things nicely bundled together, otherwise. A worthwhile way to spend 90 minutes as long as you realize the story is more important than the violence.

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