On his knees, a gun to his head and wearing nought but his underwear, the UK’s leading pro-fox hunting figurehead stares into the camera of his captors and refuses to submit that his life-long passion is actually nothing more than inhuman brutality. This is just one of many equally underwhelming sequences that comprise British micro-budget thriller Blooded (2011).
Set in a remote, rural area of Scotland, Blooded is one of a slew of recent titles masquerading as a record of real events; purporting to be a documentary rather than a film. From The Blair Witch Project (1999) back in the late nineties to more recent successes such as critically commended, shoe-string feature Paranormal Activity (2007), it’s fair to say that we’re becoming increasingly accustomed as moviegoers to films trading is this sort of hoodwinkery. Unfortunately, Blooded might just be under-estimating their audience; it’s fooling no-one.
Not so much the ‘found footage’ approach used in mockumentaries like recent release Terry (2011) or the aforementioned Paranormal Activity, Blooded operates under the guise of a television reconstruction of events. Employing a similar format to the type found in feature inserts for shows like Crimewatch, real-life accounts from witnesses and victims are cut together with dramatic re-enactments; the former acting as kind of narration for the latter.
Herein however, lies the film’s first great stumbling block: from frame one, the interviewees come across more like actors than the counterparts portraying them in the dramatic sequences – epic fail. Their unconvincing recitals of the horrors they endured undercut from the very outset any hope that Blooded might have of pulling one over on its audience.
Unfortunately, the voiceover work from the somewhat dubious ‘real victims’ is soon to bring the illusion crashing down once more. Much unlike the subject matter of real documentaries, Blooded is too heavy handed, exaggerating the sense of threat and adversity in an attempt to intensify the whole experience; ultimately though, it all just comes across as ‘hammy’ and over-acted.
The premise of the film is actually quite intriguing, viewed as a treatment alone; scripted as a straight piece of fiction could have worked brilliantly. However, it’s all two obvious to even a naive viewer that the creative decisions made on this film were more the result of budgetary constraints than anything else. What had the potential to be a thought provoking study of two diametric positions of extremism, is lost amid unnecessary and clichéd subplots that would have looked more at home in a low-budget soap opera than a gritty thriller and presumably were cynically included for the purpose of endowing the otherwise uninspiring characters with some level of humanity.
With a stir of recent controversy catapulting this film into the spot-light over the past few weeks (owing to a little viral advertising), it will likely enjoy a great deal more success than it rightly deserves as people queue to see what all the fuss is about. My advice is: don’t bother. The film does not nearly meet the expectations that media hype has bestowed upon it.