Windy City Horrorama Review: BLOODLINE (2018)

Blumhouse is known for releasing some of the biggest hits in horror for the last few years. They gave us plenty of supernatural stories and franchises like The Purge and Insidious series.

Evan Cole (Seann William Scott) has a perfect life. He has a loving wife, a fulfilling job helping at-risk youth as a school counselor, and a brand-new baby boy at home. But like most folks with seemingly perfect lives, Evan has a secret: he kills people. Specifically: people who fail to meet his high standards of personal and family values. Bloodline follows Evan’s story as a serial killer with a heart, as he attempts to protect both his own family and the children in his charge.

After being typecast in goofy comedy roles for the majority of his career, Seann William Scott gets to play with his role a little bit more than he usually would as Evan. He shifts from caring family man to a violent sociopath with ease, and shines brightest when he’s with the children he works with at his high school. Evan gets just a touch too dead behind the eyes when he has to fake humanity for anyone he doesn’t love, but that fits into the unrelenting murderer package.

At just over 90 minutes, Bloodline is a quick trip that manages to be enjoyable the majority of the way through the film. As you might expect, there are a lot of Dexter vibes, and some truly awful people get to meet satisfying ends. But Evan’s serial killer methodology isn’t perfect, and soon things begin to unravel. While he might think death is the best answer for his wards’ abusive relatives, it turns out that some of his students end up hurt by the disappearance of their family members. Their questions, coupled with the police discovery of Evan’s burial site, push things to a boiling point, and result in his wife Lauren (Mariela Garriga) having to ask herself some difficult questions.

Bloodline delivers a lot of bloody fun. Who doesn’t want to watch Nazis and rapists meet stab-filled endings? It’s pretty to look at, too, the cinematography playing with contrasting colors to complement the dual sides of Evan, and it doesn’t shy away from depicting his victims’ (mostly deserved) wounds. Unfortunately, things close out with a truly “yikes”-worthy ending, sliding a little too far down the slippery moral slope to maintain audience sympathy.

It’s nice to see Seann William Scott get to play around with a new role. He doesn’t get a chance to do that often, and Bloodline more than provides a vehicle for his talents. But ultimately, the climax of the film undercuts his character’s ethically grey nature – and slashes away at the story’s potential.

Blumhouse is known for releasing some of the biggest hits in horror for the last few years. They gave us plenty of supernatural stories and franchises like The Purge and Insidious series. Their logo sitting in front of any movie always brings joy as it’s promising that I’m most likely in for a ride. Walking into BLOODLINE, I had no idea this was one of their projects. The poster art is simple with a close up of a not so happy Seann William Scott (American Pie, Southland Tales) with possibly blood splattered on the side of his face that’s shrouded in shadows. While I never doubted his acting capabilities, my curiosity was peaked to see what he could bring to the genre as I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything presumably dark.

BLOODLINE opens with a nurse getting ready to end her shift before she meets a gruesome end by an unseen assailant. We rewind to some time before and meet high school social worker Evan (Scott), who is expecting his first child with his wife, Lauren. After a graphic up close and personal birth sequence, we get to experience the stressful nightmare that is trying to get a good night’s sleep with a newborn in the house.

Evan begins to take late night rides to supposedly clear his head but is really murdering those who are hurting his students (abusive fathers, rapist uncles, etc). However, the murders are drawing attention and the links aren’t so subtle as to who might be apprehended for these crimes. On top of that, Evan’s mother, Marie, decides she’s going to stay to help with the baby even though it’s clear her presence is not welcomed by Lauren.

It’s not just Evan’s rampage that engages the audience, but the family dynamics are fun and at times tense to watch. There’s some unspoken animosity between Lauren and Marie especially when it comes to how to take care of the baby. For example, Lauren does not like it when Marie is holding the baby with the TV on. Just one of those first-time mother superstitions? Marie is more laid back in her approach, but her relationship with Evan is very close.

BLOODLINE keeps you engaged from start to finish, in a narrative where it might be conflicting who you actually are rooting for. The death scenes are pretty brutal and Scott embraces it like he was born to play a vicious killer. This isn’t the same guy we saw several years ago playing a horny teenager with the hot mom.

Scott proves he’s the real deal and doesn’t shy away from showing off his dark side. The cinematography is complimented with knife close-ups and vibrant colors reminiscent of the beloved Giallo sub-genre, accompanied by an addicting synth score that better get a vinyl release.

I got to watch this at the Windy City Horrorama, a film festival that focuses on independent horror where us midwesterners get the luxury to watch the kind of movies we normally have to wait for VOD. With fellow horror fans and some special guests, it’s the kind of weekend I look forward to.

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