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WRITTEN REVIEW: Blood Paradise

From time to time the daily grind of our responsibilities takes it’s toll and we reach our limit. When this happens, most retreat to some coveted vacation spot where the phone gets turned off and the margaritas start to flow. This is the position that best selling author Robin Richards finds herself in. Her most recent book, “Return to Blood Paradise” fails to reach the same critical and financial success as her previous books. Per the advise of her literary agent she takes a vacation to a secluded Swedish farm/bed and breakfast resort to recuperate and to put the failure of “Return to Blood Paradise” behind her and to try to movie into a new direction creatively.

Robin’s agent has reserved her room and arranged a driver, Hans Bubi, to take Robin to and from the farm. Hans, a die hard fan of Robin’s literary work and horn dog who wants to jump her bones, is all to eager to help and may be interested in more than a simple autograph.

Upon arriving at the farm, Robin is quickly freaked out. This isn’t the place for her. Her days are spent wearing designer clothes to five star restaurants before attending some gala event, not a farm. Blood Paradise becomes a fish out of water story, but unlike The Beverly Hillbillies, the farm owner and his staff aren’t your likable simple country folk.

And to make matters worse, Robin has struggled, day after day, staring at her blank laptop screen unable to spark any creativity. Robin has writers block.

Robin’s suspicions arise when her boyfriend, who was to meet her at the farm, never arrives. Their friends haven’t seen or heard from him, and Robin gets worried. When she leaves the farm early to go look for him, the owner of the farm, Rolf, has something to say about it.

As the end drawn near, Robin has to use her wits as she fights to survive.

Blood Paradise employs what is known as “urbanoid horror”, taking Robin, a highfalutin city dweller and placing her in an unfamiliar, isolated and remote environment where everything that is routine seems strange and frightening to her...and then the killing starts.

What heightens her suspicion is her celebrity, accustomed to dealing with fans invading her personal space.

The only drawback here is that Blood Paradise feels like something I’ve seen before. There is no shortage of unbanoid horror, from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes(remade in 2006) in the ‘70s, to Just Before Dawn and Tourist Trap in the ‘80s and eventually the absurd Wrong Turn film franchise of the ‘00s. This combined with a story of an author reminds me a little of Misery or The Dark Half...or, any other Stephen King story about a writer.

From a technical standpoint, I enjoyed Blood Paradise quite a bit. The acting is pretty remarkable for a cast of only six or seven characters – most of them being non-actors who were also Andréa Winter’s family members (mother, father, brother and uncle). The only professional actors are Winter, and Christer Cavallius as Hans.

The editing and cinematography are great. Some of the rural Swedish locations are beautiful. In fact, I wish there were more of them. Blood Paradise trucks along at a steady crawl, leaving plenty of room for the camera to linger on the scenery, further emphasizing Robin’s isolation. The scenery and cinematography are definitely the strengths of Blood Paradise which, if focused on more, could have taken on a personality of it’s own and given the film it’s own unique identity. Unfortunately this never happens.

And now let’s move onto the weakness of Blood Paradise. The story and lack of tension. Both of which have an explanation. After the Blood Paradise premier in 2018 at the Film Society Lincoln Center in New York, Patrick von Barkenberg, Andréa Winter and Christer Cavallius participated in a Q&A. During which they explained that an early cut of the film ran approximately three hours and had to be cut down to 88 Min. Some of these scenes were dream sequences and an extended attack scene approaching the films climax. There were also several scenes scripted that were unfilmed due to time constraints.

Now what does all that mean? During the editing process the story and plot had to be altered on the fly to salvage the film and to preserve it’s intended story arch. I think the editing job is fine and covers what elements what might be missing. But as a result, the film feels like it’s missing something.

As the film approaches it’s climax, I could have used more tension. More building isolation and fear. The Hans character is an obsessed fan, but we learn that he’s harmless. I would prefer if his motivations were more ambiguous, leaving him to be a red herring until the very end.

Speaking of “something missing”, early on in the film there is a scene where Robin and her boyfriend are engaging in some S&M foreplay with Robin being wipped as she lays tied to a bed. This scene is nearly mirrored at the end of the film, however there is no connection. As if to say, like the gritty crime stories that she writes, Robin has a dark side and is better suited to handle the dangerous situation that she has found herself in. In the right context, being tied up for pleasure could help her remain calm and collected as she is being tied up and her life threatened.

So that’s Blood Paradise in a nutshell. It seems like it had a lot going for it, but due to time and budgetary reasons the film falls shot. It does show what Andréa Winter and Patrick von Barkenberg capable of and I look forward to see what comes next from the pair.

So if you’re interested in checking out a Blood Paradise - a beautifully filmed Scandinavian take on the very American urbanoid horror genre, by all means check it out.

Blood Paradise was made available on VOD and BLU-RAY (filled with deleted scenes) by the fine people at Artsploitation Films.

Reviewer | Producer & Editor | Resident Conspiracy Theorist

A blue collar dude with facial hair that would make his Norse ancestors proud. He is a collector of comic books, retro video games, and obscure relics from the VHS era.


★ ★ ★




Blake said...

What's the best Scandinavian horror film you've seen so far?

Unknown said...

Hey guys awesome show. I hope y’all are enjoying y’alls time off . I’m curious though are y’all going to be doing shows during October ?