Review: Blood Car (TBC) / Director: Alex Orr / Screenplay: Alex Orr / Starring: Mike Brune, Katie Rowlett, Anna Chlumsky / Release date: 24th February (in selected UK cinemas), 30th July (DVD)
Blood Car, written and directed by newcomer Alex Orr, caused a bit of a stir at the Edinburgh Film Festival 2008, the Cinequest Film Festival and the Toronto After Dark Festival and over-excited film critics have waxed lyrical about it ever since, to the extent that one even called it ‘the best Goddamned indie movie ever.’ Having not seen every indie movie ever made I really couldn’t comment but, intrigued by its rapturous reception and, always one for a movie about a car powered by blood, I slipped the preview disc with some trepidation into the hungry mouth of my DVD player.
Here’s the thing. Blood Car is actually pretty good. Where cheap UK horror movies tend to involve zombies and generally don’t have a lot going for them, American indie cinema usually tends to be a bit more inventive and is very often the breeding ground for talents which go on to create more perverse, bigger budget pictures which nip at the heels of the Hollywood studios and make them sit up and take notice. Alex Orr’s dark, dark comedy is a real triumph of style and content over lack of budget; it’s raw and uncompromising yet it’s clearly got its tongue planted firmly in its cheek, designed to amuse as much as it’s designed to titillate and terrify. We’re in the near-future where fuel prices are so astronomically high hardly anyone can afford to drive any more and the countryside is littered with graveyards of abandoned motor vehicles. Gawky vegan Kindergarden teacher Archie Andrews (Brune) is busily trying to invent an alternative engine which will run on wheatgrass but his experiments come to nothing until an accident causes the mixture to combine with drops of his own blood. His car’s engine springs to life… Obviously Archie can’t keep fuelling the car from his own veins so he sets about finding alternative sources of energy, starting with small animals but it quickly becomes apparent that, to keep his car on the road at all costs, he has to find something with considerably more blood. Before long he’s installed his pulverising fuel-extraction system into the boot (sorry,trunk) of the car and, despite his vegan lifestyle, he’s soon bundling anyone he can lay his hands on - a car-jacker, a disabled war veteran, a busty hitch-hiker - into the back of the car so he can keep his wheels and impress his sex-mad new girlfriend Denise (Rowlett). His activities have also caught the eye of a bunch of rather inept Government agents who are closing in for the kill…
Made in 2007 and debuting in 2008, it’s taken a while for Blood Car to find its way to UK cinemas (where it’ll enjoy a limited theatrical release at the end of February before arriving on DVD in July) but it’s a guilty pleasure worth tracking down if only because it’s just so bizarre. The American dream is, it seems, all about possessing a decent set of wheels - Archie becomes an irresistible attraction to women just because he’s got a working car - and Archie’s own vegan principles quickly go by the board when he realises what he has to gain just by staying on the road. Quirky and irreverent, determinedly lo-fi in attitude, Blood Car is often laugh-out loud funny and even its occasional bouts of pumping blood-letting have a shambolic charm about them which make them more amusing than horrific and Brune’s geeky, disturbed Archie is a likable lead even as he’s routinely slaughtering anyone he can lay his hands on. Blood Car’s message - keeping America in fuel is more important than life itself - is hammered home to an extreme in the last few minutes, but the film remains a quietly-accomplished little effort with a sparse, witty script directed with real verve and intelligence by Orr. He’s one to watch and so is Blood Car; you’d be a fuel to miss it.
Expected rating: 4 out of 10