Review – Blood Shed (2014)

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Review – Blood Shed (2014)
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Horror
Phase 4 Films, Uncork’d Entertainment, Viva Entertainment
March 4th, 2014
Release length: 1:34:00
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With the sudden surge of storage bidding and the life it weaves thanks to “reality” programs like Storage Wars and the less popular Storage Hunters, it was only a matter of time before a film about storage units became the premise of a major motion or independent Horror flick, the latter more probable than the first. Well, whether directly related to the recent success or not, that’s what writer and director Patrick Hasson (Waiting) presents with Blood Shed. The entire production was given an estimated two million dollars (US) to be shot in Los Angeles, California, and took on a cast mixed with relatively known and unknown members. But does the story of a homeless man struggling to learn more about his family amid a bunch of squatters and murderous spirit stand as a suitable late night flick, or does this film completely miss the mark?

Blood Shed is the story of Gabriel (Gabriel De Santi) and his quest to know more about his family. He is sent a key by his brother , or at least the early story makes you think happened, to a shed in a storage warehouse that was paid in advance. The owner, Arsen (Yasha Blackman), is your typical scumbag who constantly accuses Gabriel of sleeping in the shed and threatens to confiscate the property in the room if he violates the agreement. Samira (Bree Essrig), an employee who quickly takes to Gabriel, admits he has just gone into lockers and stolen stuff he cannot convince the owner to sell or give him. This is where Arsen’s character begins to develop, constantly changin locks on Gabriel, even intruding and rummaging around on his own.

As the story unfolds, more characters are revealed, though all seem to be homeless, live in the facility, and with a few exceptions end up serving little purpose to the story. This includes a old deaf mute who communicates through typing, a young boy named Trace (Brandon Ratcliff) who makes friends with Gabriel, Trace’s mother, a cross-dresser and his/her oriental drug addict room mate. Also residing there is Jezebel (Cherie Daly), a woman who is forever linked to the love of her life thanks to a voodoo priestess. She inevitably comes to America with him, murders her to prevent her from using his unborn child in Santaria, and stuck roaming the hallways of the building at night in always nude human or demon forms. Most of Jezebel’s history, however, is told through flashbacks and material in Gabriel’s locker, though why she stays in this particular location is never really addressed until the very end.

Jezebel also keeps a pregnant woman alive through most of the movie due largely to her being with child. Sadly this point really has nothing to do with the story line other than push the motherly angle for the character that unfolds through some old reel-to-reel home movies and the aforementioned flashbacks. However, more about her and Gabriel’s past are unravelled when Arsen catches him in the building at night and locks everyone inside. This includes Samira and Evette (Jillisa Lynn) who happen to be there to get drunk, and so Samira can hit on Gabriel. That choice becomes more than they bargained for as it leads to a night of survival horror that reveals the truth to Gabriel about the homeless lead’s past.

Blood Shed

Blood Shed‘s story would actually be better set to an early time period than a modern setting, or at least a short story if it had be done today. Most of Blood Shed happens to take place in the storage facility and parking space. This wouldn’t be so bad if the film didn’t constantly acknowledge that the security cameras around the place actually worked. In fact the crossdresser in one of the units has a television rigged up to watch the security footage, which the oriental addict eventually breaks. Even in the first five to ten minutes of the film, you’ll wonder how nobody knows about the demon haunting the place given the murders that take place inside.

While nobody seems to know about Jezebel at first, it is revealed Arsen and Samira are aware of the homeless people living inside, which is a problem according to the owner despite not doing much about it, this making Arsen’s rivalry with Gabriel a little less respectable, and more greed driven. There’s also a scene in which the owner himself goes into Gabriel’s unit and takes a tooth, putting it into his collection is more than likely stolen goodies. Sadly this is never brought up again, nor does it play any role whatsoever in the progression of the film, much like the off-screen gruesome murder of the janitor that nobody seems even acknowledge existed. Surely Jezebel didn’t decide to clean up the mess in the hall after she was done, so how nobody bothered to question the crime scene, or even the janitor’s disappearance, does point to some lacklustre writing, filler material, as well as general fan service by showing the sexy Cherie Daly topless on more than one occassion.

Most of the scenes involving Jezebel that aren’t her roaming the halls or creeping up with arms extended against the walls like with Freddy Kreuger of A Nightmare on Elm Street take place in what appears to be one of the units themselves. It isn’t acknowledged until later that this is actually the basement of the old asylum Arsen mentions the location having been before he acquired and remodelled. The scenes there are designed for a gorehound more than anything, leaving the bodies of the two men killed earlier on in plain view, while the aforementioned girl is tied up and kept alive, only to later discover more bodies and skeletons deeper in the basement when trying to escape.

And again, it must be asked: How does nobody know any of this is going on? One of the side characters brings up Jezebel and acknowledges seeing her, but other than that everyone seems oblivious which is just impossible. But the biggest question becomes how nobody even notices the lovely scent of decomposition. If the basement were completely sealed up, one could argue you couldn’t smell the bodies rotting. However, since the characters are told they can get out that way if it weren’t boarded up (which is usually just wood hammered across the door) then somebody should smell decaying bodies. As somene who had a squirrel die in his walls, a little wood will not block out that odor, and if that small a creature is obvious then how does multiple bodies not get anyone’s attention? Arsen might not notice or care, but surely Samira or even Gabriel when inspecting his locker would.

The acting throughout could be scaled as mediocre to rough, though the latter really stems to just two characters. Every time Trace appeared you knew you would get very little emotion from the character. Every word of dialogue just came across like a deadpan reading of the script itself. Even when happening upon a dead body later on, nothin phases him. The oriental addict also seems to go over-the-top with her role, and it just looks as bad as it sounds from her lips. There’s also some voice over volume issues. If you’re hearing the conversation on the other end of a cell phone, it sounds like that person is right next to the camera, louder than the person the camera is looking at (which is usually Gabriel). Factor that into a dull, generic storage unit setting with only glimpses into the basement, which is the only interesting set piece of the film, and you’ll wonder where that supposed two million dollar budget went.

In the end, Blood Shed is a moderately dull, poorly acted film with a decent premise that would best be left for a thirty minute short story based television series. The limited set design greatly restricted the fairly well executed production qualities as well. This is a major let down and could have helped distract you for pointing out all these events could have easily be solved before the film even began, or at least the day after the janitor went missing. It would also help to establish what day we are on, as it’s unclear if its been two, three, or even four days or more since Gabriel came to the warehouse. Simply put, you’re not missing out on anything with this film and it could easily be passed up.


Overall Score: 3/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.