Dry Blood – USA, 2016

‘Remember not to kill.’

Dry Blood is a 2016 American horror feature film co-produced and directed by Kelton Jones from a screenplay by Clint Carney who also stars. The Bloody Knuckles Entertainment production also stars Jaymie Valentine, Graham Sheldon and Rin Ehlers.

The synthesizer soundtrack score was also composed by Clint Carney as System Syn.

Plot:

Drug addict Brian Barnes takes refuge in a remote cabin to clean up one final time. However, his well-meaning plans are soon interrupted by the torments of a sadistic Sheriff and ghastly visions of ghosts (that may or may not be hallucinations brought on by his withdrawal). While pulling at the threads to this horrific mystery, it may be Brian’s sanity that unravels first…

Review:

Brian (Clint Carney, who also wrote the script) is an addict hitting rock bottom. He picks up heads to a cabin he owns out in the woods to try and straighten out. He’s no sooner there however than he catches the attention of the local sheriff (Kelton Jones). Attention that is soon pushing the boundaries of harassment.

As if this isn’t bad enough, he’s seeing things, very unpleasant things. Is the cabin haunted or are they hallucinations caused by his withdrawal from drugs and booze? The arrival of his friend Anna (Jaymie Valentine) should help. Instead things go further down the rabbit hole, and what waits at the end is not going to be pretty.

Dry Blood is a somewhat schizophrenic film, The first hour is something of a slow burn, punctuated by occasional jarring moments. In the last half hour though it slams the hammer down with an explosion of gore and very convincing effects. The shift is so jarring it feels like it’s from an entirely different movie. It’s also a brutal kick in the teeth that ends the film on an intense note.

Carney and Jones have taken a well worn plot device and done something interesting and different with it. The script never goes quite where you expect it to, but it does play fair with the audience. There is one scene that, if you catch it, tells you what the real situation is. But in all of the mindf*ckery over what is and isn’t real, it’s an easy clue to miss.

Dry Blood benefits from some excellent cinematography by Graham Sheldon. It really helps set the mood and convey a sense of claustrophobia and impending doom. Even early shots of the mountains that should be beautiful are rendered ominous.

Clint Carney also deserves special mention for his performance as Brian. He really comes off as a guy you want to root for, to see beat his demons even as it becomes more and more obvious his troubles run very deep. Even as you begin to realise the truth a part of you wants to deny it.

For a micro budget effort filmed mostly in one location, Dry Blood delivers a lot. The first hour may tax some viewer’s patience, but the payoff at the end is worth it.

Jim Morazzini, guest reviewer via Voices from the Balcony

Other reviews:

“The final revelations about Brian’s character are shocking, but fail as any kind of dramatic payoff since, up to then, we learn very little of substance about him that might point towards his motivations. Repulsion (1965) did this kind of movie right. This one, however, doesn’t.” Evan Popplestone, Cinema’s Fringes

“In spite of its well-meaning exploration of addiction, Dry Blood isn’t something likely to stick in the mind’s eye after it’s over. With a tune-up on the performance front, the movie could probably put another star or two onto its rating. Another polish on the script and pass through the editing room to quicken the pace would have been wise as well.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt

” …it is tonally more in common with a Winter’s Bone than a Babadook or It Follows — with more blood, either way […] The film is rewarding with its strengths prevalent in its script, direction and cast. Clint Carney is effective and manic as Brian Barnes and his supporting cast is equally remarkable. Jaymie Valentine is seductively subdued as Barnes’ sole friend Anna.” Gruesome magazine

“Besides some of the acting, a very rusty start that shows quite amateur production values, and a few awkward moments that left me confused more than anything, Dry Blood is a true indie gem, one that you should watch as soon as you can.” Horror World & Reviews

” …put on your big boy or big girl pants, grin it, bear it and make your way through to the third act. Totally worth it once you get there. With several call-outs to Kubrick’s The Shining, a decent lead performance from Carney and one of the biggest and best comebacks of any (initially) not-so-great film…” Horrorfreak News

“Filmed mostly in and around a cabin in the San Bernardino mountains, this micro-budget indie film packs quite a punch. Dry Blood is a crazy, bloody trip through insanity and back! This is definitely not a happy vacation in the woods.” Morbidly Beautiful

Dry Blood is an enjoyable mindf*ck of a movie, as it really plays with the perception of the audience in regards to what’s real what’s illusion just like the lead character is never really able to tell, and time and again it neglects the rules of linear storytelling just to confuse the viewer – in a rather clever sort of way.” Search My Trash

“A frequently frustrating but at times rewarding experience. While often hampered by ropey acting and pacing issues there is a decent concept in there, some moments of real wit in the script and the brutal finale is excellently done.” Slime House TV

Release:

Dry Blood was released on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD on January 15, 2019, via Epic Pictures’ Dread Central Presents imprint. Special features:

  • Audio commentary with director/actor Kelton Jones and writer/actor Clint Carney
  • Remember Not to Kill: The Making of Dry Blood
  • Trailers

Cast and characters:

  • Clint Carney … Brian Barnes
  • Jaymie Valentine … Anna
  • Kelton Jones … Cop
  • Graham Sheldon … Todd
  • Rin Ehlers … Meagan
  • Robert V. Galluzzo … Clerk
  • Macy Johnson … Alecia
  • Savea Kagan … Alecia (voice)

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