Set in the North Atlantic Ocean, the year is 1945 and World War II is close to coming to an end. German naval forces have orders to eliminate any survivors. Floating in the sea is a small group of survivors on a raft. They have hopes they will get discovered or float until they find safety. Soon they discover a large German Vessel floating straight towards them. Considering they do not have any rations left and they will more than likely freeze to death at sea, they decide to try and board the Vessel and take a risk at survival.
But soon the group are shocked and they find several mysteries on this German Vessel. One of these mysteries? Why are there so many dead Nazis? These Nazis have died by being burnt or other odd and unexplainable ways. They also find that someone on the Vessel had destroyed all the lifeboats stopping anyone from being able to leave. Overall, the ship seems to be empty with no survivors until the group find a young girl who introduces them to a mysterious room.
The film’s visual effects earn the biggest praise from me. Everything from the blood, gore and dead bodies all looked great considering the film would have had a small budget. For those who are not aware, Justin Dix (who is credited here as Producer, Writer and Director) has been previously credited with special effects and artwork in many films. Based on the visuals here, the man is clearly talented and has used his past experience.
It was also great to see Australian actor Nathan Phillips returning to the screen. I personally have been missed seeing his presence in the cinema of late. His performance here was easily the most enjoyable performance out of the crew, followed by actors Alyssa Sutherland and Alex Cooke who was also pleasing.
Another positive was the film’s use of lighting. Blood Vessel is quite a dark film, but it is very easy to watch and everything is clear to see on screen. There is also a positive element with the use of red lighting. This might seem like a minor thing, but it really stood out to me.
As a plot, Blood Vessel is a slow-burning type of horror. The first and second act is really about the characters unravelling the ship’s mysteries including what happened to the original crew. Once the major elements within the plot are revealed and the plot’s core is underway, I was shocked to discover the film only had approx. 30 minutes of runtime remaining.
Sadly, Blood Vessel does follow a few common tropes which we have seen far too many times in cinema. These include characters who enjoy bickering and arguing instead of working together, and my personal favourite- characters who enjoy walking around on their own thinking they know better or even characters who simply have themselves as their best interest. The characters themselves also feel stereotypical starting with the first on-screen death. Characters talking about the past and sharing black and white photos felt slightly forced, but again, I understand this is something common we’ve seen before to help bring character developments to life. Certain action scenes can be shown a little too quickly and key elements can be missed in a matter of seconds which will only frustrate some audiences.
Overall, Blood Vessel is best treated as if it is a grindhouse type of horror film. It is a truly neat concept with solid visual effects and lighting, plus I’ll confess that I enjoyed seeing Australian actor Nathan Phillips return to the screen too. Blood Vessel is certainly a brainless film with typical characters who fall into aspects we have seen before. For the most part, it is a slow-burning horror film, but it is still guaranteed to please many who watch it.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden