Blood Machines (2019) review

Blood Machines is billed as ‘A Shudder Series’ which I guess it is, but that is a series of 3 episodes, with a total runtime of around 50 minutes. Whilst it is visually and stylistically arresting with an interesting central idea, the script and dialogue fail to match up to the high standard of the on-screen imagery and ultimately this proves tedious, even with the restricted 50 minute runtime.

About that runtime – for some reason the three acts in this ‘story’ are presented in 3 different films, each with their own credit sequences at the beginning an end. I’m not sure why this was as it seemed to me an exercise in self-importance and indulgence. Although, given some of the imagery used in this film that shouldn’t really be a surprise.

Let’s talk about the good stuff first – the visual style of this experience has been designed to within an inch of its life, from the font and film-stock scratches used in the opening credits to the externally shape-shifting spaceships and the shiny AI robots inside them. The soundtrack and music editing is also fantastic, but this should come as no surprise as this project has grown out of the music video shot for Carpenter Brut by the filmmaker, Seth Ickerman. Throughout there are uses of camera angles and visual effects that are a treat for the eyes, although saying that there is one thing that jars – more on that in a bit.

If Blood Machines was a 10 or 15 minute music video and not a feature presentation then all of the above ‘good stuff’ would be enough to make this a great piece of filmmaking, but at 50 minutes, you need something more to keep you satisfied and this is where I felt that this experience was lacking. As far as the story goes, it’s not a bad concept for a shorter film – there’s some stuff about AI and scavenging and mystical tribes that worship AI. I won’t say much more about this, as with this short a runtime you could give everything away in a sentence, however what I will say is that all I could think during the ‘chase’ section of this movie was that they seemed to be desperately hunting for a well-written script, but never found it. Add to this an unlikeable (deliberately) and badly realised (not-so deliberately) central male character, and you stop seeing the visuals or hearing the music and lose any sense of immersion that you may have had.

Oh yeah, and that thing that jarred – at the core of this movie are shiny naked women with, for no apparent reason, highly luminous upside-down crosses on their torsos. By the final scenes of the film I really felt like I was watching the masturbatory fantasies of a 14 year old boy with a madonna-whore complex and a large collection of android porn. Whilst this might appeal to some (teenage boys probably) this just felt a bit sad to me, and left me feeling cold and a little bit annoyed. I’m going to rate this as a 4 on the Skelpometer full in the knowledge that a lot of people are going to love this, but it’s just not for me.

Blood Machines is streaming on Shudder now

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