|It's In the Blood
is an all-together new cinematic movement. At its core a father son story, the film is a deconstruction of the prototypical 'creature feature', incorporating elements of mystical realism, and psychological thriller. We call it a Psyche-Saga. One year after a tragic incident tore their family apart, a grieving son (October) and his estranged father (Russell) embark on a journey into the wild to reconcile their past. When a horrifying accident leaves Russell badly injured, and strands them in the wild, it is up to October to save them both. However, this wilderness is not what it seems, and as they deteriorate, so to does their concept of reality. Horrifying creatures, ghostly apparitions, is it all in their heads, or could the truth be far more terrible? Lance Henriksen stars in this nightmarish descent into the very heart of darkness where more than your guilt can eat you alive.
It's in the Blood is the story of a young man named October (Sean Elliot, who is also one of the film's writers) who has returned home to reconnect with his father, Russell (sci-fi/horror hero Lance Henriksen from Aliens and Pumpkinhead). October, a med-school dropout and Russell, an aging sheriff, have been estranged ever since a family tragedy came between them. In an effort to re-establish their relationship, the pair goes on a camping trip, but the woods that they venture into contain more than just streams and trees. There is a shape shifting monster wandering around in the forest, and soon the men are in a struggle with the beast for their lives. When old memories and flashbacks of their horrible past come up, the men are in a fight with not only the monster in the trees but with each other and their inner demons.
The screenplay for It's in the Blood was written by Sean Elliot and Scooter Downey (who also directs the film), and it's a fascinating look into the mindset of a family torn apart by misery. There is initial awkwardness between October and Russell that is soon diffused as Russell tries to catch up on years of fatherhood by teaching October things like how to drive a stick shift, hunt and build a fire. As picturesque as the guys' camping trip tries to be, there is a constant underlying tension between them as October blames Russell for his step-sister/lover's murder while Russell asks the young man to "just let her go." While fighting for their lives against the horrors in the woods, October and Russell are still at odds with each other. Even when Russell is incapacitated and completely dependent on October, he's still an arrogant jerk. The dynamic between Elliot's October and Henriksen's Russell effectively echoes a real-life father son relationship, an element that adds a lot of authenticity to It's in the Blood.
Thematically, It's in the Blood functions on several levels. It's a straight up creature-feature, playing on the man versus monster motif. It explores the family dynamic of a tense father-son relationship that is on the fragile edge of repair. Finally, it dives into the subconscious world of how individuals psychologically deal with grief and guilt about past experiences. It's in the Blood is a surprisingly complex film, but it achieves that status while still under the guise of being a simple horror film. Don't be fooled; It's in the Blood is a good horror film, but it's also much more than that.
The aspect of It's in the Blood that adds dimension and character to the film is the sound design. Experienced sound designer Paula Fairfield (Sin City, "Lost") practically paints with sound, turning the character's instabilities and insecurities into audible noises. For instance, whenever October is faced with a crisis or emergency, the soundtrack plays high-speed whispers of passages from his medical books, giving the audience a glimpse into his mind as he frantically searches for the information he needs to solve his problem. In another scene, when October is forced to amputate Russell's leg, Russell's screams are interrupted by the peaceful strains of classical music as Russell tries to retreat to his happy place to escape the pain and agony. Examples like this are reasons why audio is considered to be half of the filmic experience, and the sound design for It's in the Blood is done exceptionally well.
It's in the Blood is not a run of the mill horror movie. Sure, it's got monsters - real clever ones that are reminiscent of those found in Predator and Pumpkinhead - but it's got more than that. There are human monsters as well (a creepy loner named Michael, played effectively by Jimmy Gonzales) as well as internal ones (the demons that both October and Russell face). Even scarier than the monsters in It's in the Blood is the understated dread that seeps through the film - not only are the guys lost and wounded, but they are being hunted, and their fear becomes the audiences' fear. The film's concepts are uncomfortable and disturbing, forcing viewers to confront images that they would rather not see. It's in the Blood may not cause viewers to jump and scream, but it will make them squirm and gasp, and definitely won't help them sleep at night.
October 26, 2012