Bloodline: Serial Killer Thriller Drips With Disturbing Family Legacy

Though Blumhouse Production co-produced Bloodline, the psychological horror movie sat on a shelf after premiering on the festival circuit. On the surface, it’s another serial killer ‘hiding in plain sight’ movie Over the last few years, we’ve seen several similarly-themed movies including The Clovehitch Killer, Summer of 84, and The House That Jack Built. Aside from familiarity, Bloodline had a first-time director and unlikely star – Seann William Scott. Playing very far against type, does Scott make for a convincing traumatized serial killer?

Synopsis

As a young boy, Evan grew up in a violent, abusive home. With only his mother to protect him, Evan survived but suffered significant trauma. Now married and with a newborn son, the sleepless night start to wear away at Evan. Soon his repressed rage creeps back up. Late at night, while his wife sleeps, Evan begins prowling the streets – father by day, serial killer by night.

Bloodline a Brutal, If Somewhat, Repetitive Thriller

From its opening scene, Bloodline promises to be a brutal psychological thriller in the vein of Maniac or Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. First-time director Henry Jacobson uses a point-of-view shot to shocking effect along with convincing practical effect. Though subsequent kills lack this initial shock, Jacobson keeps things brutally simple. None of the violence is stylized adding a disturbing feel to the movie. Stylistically, Jacobson washes several scenes in fluorescent colours and occasionally uses jarring editing to replicate Evan’s sleep-deprived disorientation. In addition to Trevor Gureckis’ 80’s-inspired synth score, Jacobson demonstrates some atmosphere and style.

In addition to Trevor Gureckis’ 80’s-inspired synth score, Jacobson demonstrates some atmosphere and style.

As Bloodline hits its second act, however, things get a little repetitive. Moreover, Evan’s modus operandi and ritual veers a little too closely. These weaknesses, along with others, crop up from the movie’s screenplay. That is, Bloodline doesn’t move much beyond its familiar premise. Efforts to humanize Evan’s trauma are superficial, largely comprised of quickly edited flashbacks. Buried somewhere in the movie is some commentary on family that’s not likely to resonate strongly with audiences. Other characters and their relationships to Evan just aren’t fleshed out enough to impact the story as intended. And what are meant to be shocking twists feel telegraphed. Bloodline works best when it keeps its focus on its serial killer.

Stifler Surprises with Haunting Performance

Let’s face it, Bloodline was going to always hinge on Seann William Scott. Perhaps best known for playing American Pie’s ‘Steve Stifler’, Scott has spent most of his career in comedy roles. Bloodline represents an abrupt career shift. And Scott surprisingly excels with the change of pace. His performance actually feels layered as his ‘Evan’ feels emotionally damaged with a rage simmering beneath the surface. To his credit. Scott convincingly mixes emotional flatness with a just barely contained intensity. Inevitably, audiences will draw comparisons between this role and Dexter.

Bloodline represents an abrupt career shift. And Scott surprisingly excels with the change of pace.

Unfortunately, Bloodline never gives Scott the chance to explode on screen. None of the other characters really register. And Mariela Garriga’s ‘Lauren’ feels underwritten. In fact, Bloodline’s biggest fault is that the relationship between Evan and his wife. Whether it’s a lack of chemistry or a screenplay issue, it’s difficult to buy that there’s much of an emotional connection between the two.

Bloodline a Better-Than-Expected Atmospheric Psychological Thriller

A couple of years ago, That 70’s Show star Topher Grace shook things up in supernatural thriller, Delirium. It was a role that allowed Grace to channel some Anthony Perkins, potentially carving out a new niche for himself. Similarly, Seann William Scott pulls off a pretty good ‘Dexter’ in Bloodline. If the psychological thriller’s story is a little weak, Jacobson’s style and Scott’s performance make up for it. The result is a much better-than-expected serial killer movie that boasts a few brutally disturbing scenes. Maybe Scott can find some new life in a new genre.

THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: B

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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