Film Review: Blood + Roses
Simon Aitken’s debut feature Blood + Roses is a vampire film that prioritises the relationship angle over themes of horror and the supernatural. Visually satisfying, the film is let down by uninteresting dialogue and some monotone acting.
Still affected by a previous trauma, Jane is withdrawn and haunted by dreams, much to the dissatisfaction of her husband Martin. An encounter with a mysterious stranger alters the dynamic of their relationship…
The main problem with Blood + Roses is its poor script. The dialogue has neither the naturalism of believable conversations nor the momentum to propel the film forward. As a result, key scenes lack the drama and tension that they deserve. Nevertheless, writer Ben Woodiwiss astutely holds back the root of Jane’s trauma, which serves to maintain an element of mystery.
Although Blood + Roses is unequivocally a vampire film, the term is never used in the film. Dracula, however, is referenced in passing, indicating the debt this film and countless others owe to Bram Stoker’s novel. The narrative is concerned with the relationship between Jane and Martin foremost, ahead of any aspect of vampirism. Blood + Roses is a story of their changing relationship; the presence of the vampire functions as a device that shifts the balance of power.
Blood + Roses follows some elements of vampire folklore, and dismisses others. The transformation from human to vampire is understated; the film features minimal body horror. Although blood is in plenty supply (as the title would suggest), there is hardly any graphic violence. The vampire bite is insinuated by the editing rather an than engorging display. The sound is generally good, although the vampire’s first appearance to Jane is over-emphasised in this respect. A more subdued sound would have been just as effective.
The cinematography is good; shots appear carefully composed. The use of colour is palpable in both interior and exterior shots. The red sky of the late evening, in particular, gives the film an eerie look, suggesting the supernatural is at play. The lighting enhances this atmosphere, especially in the dinner sequence later in the film.
Marysia Kay offers an adequate performance as Jane, suitably portraying both sides of her personality. Kane John Scott as Martin and Adam Bambrough as Ted are both very stilted in their roles. Both are unconvincing in their delivery and their range of emotion. As Seth, Benjamin Green exudes a little more personality than the other male characters.
It is a shame that the decent visual style is not matched by Blood + Roses‘ screenplay. Hopefully Simon Aitken will have better material to work with next time.