Movie Review: Unforgettable
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PhD college professor and writer Mary Florescu (Sophie Ward) investigates paranormal phenomena with her technical assistant Reg Fuller (Paul Blair). When newcomer student (as well as apparent medium and media sensation) Simon McNeal (Jonas Armstrong) attends her class, Florescu recognizes him, believing that Simon would be capable to help her in her latest case: the Tollington House, where a teenager with a nice ass met her end a couple of years ago. Turns out the house is an intersection of "highways" transporting souls to the afterlife, and the spirits don't take too kindly to Mary blocking traffic. In response, Simon becomes the spirits' living post-it note for their stories.
Clive Barker. The dude that Stephen King called 'the future of horror'. The man who made Doug Bradley a horror icon. The guy that has been getting a raw deal ever since NIGHTBREED apparently 'flopped'. But in all honesty, Clive has had more success as a horror writer and producer, having had many of his short stories made into successful films. And even though MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN got continually shafted by Lionsgate, I still dug it. On that note, I waited to see what BOOK OF BLOOD would bring to the table. Turns out 'wait' was an understatement.
As a bit of a departure for Barker, BLOOD is more of a haunted-house type of film, which still rocks. At the helm is John Harrison, who cut his teeth doing episodes for Tales From The Crypt and Tales From The Darkside. Harrison crafts some great spooky-looking shots, and coupled with equally-spooky sounds and score, the film will get you to jump at points. Story-wise, it's Clive Barker, 'nuff said. Even though BOOK OF BLOOD is based on a short story, Harrison remains faithful to the source material without throwing in his own two cents as director. And thanks to the tone and atmosphere Harrison brings to the film, there's an opportunity to get sucked in while watching. Well, at least you'd hope to (more on that in a bit).
When you see a Clive Barker film, you expect that gore and sex will be plentiful. Unfortunately, BOOK OF BLOOD isn't bursting at the seams with the red stuff, but given this is a haunted house type of film, it doesn't feel like a requirement. That's also not to say BLOOD doesn't have its noteworthy moments, since there are some shockers and squirm-inducers. Really, how is it that As for the sex part, everyone gets some. The ladies and like-minded guys win out, though. Armstrong struts around nude and shows off his ass and wang a couple of times. Hetero dudes and like-minded ladies get Ward's butt and boobs, though not as often.
Unfortunately, as much as you want to like BOOK OF BLOOD, there's only so much you can do with a film expanding upon a short story such as this. The characters are one-dimensional, to say the least. At no point did I feel like I knew much about anyone in the film. This is a frustrating thing to happen in a film that needs the viewer to be scared. But how can you be scared if you don't care about the characters? Also, the film could've spent more time in the editing room. BOOK OF BLOOD plods along with dialogue galore, clocking in at 100 minutes, pushing it for something based on such brief story material. At least the ending redeems the lengthy wait.
For something that started out so well, BOOK OF BLOOD ended up limping to the end, then picked up again when things got interesting. Unfortunately, during the time between the start and the finish, you're not given much to pay attention to. Sure, the bloodletting was there when it had to be, but ultimately, the majority of the film lacked excitement. Fans of the original story will like that the film remains true to the source material, but getting through it will be a chore for the rest of us.
After seeing BOOK OF BLOOD, I have to wonder if the film would've been that much better had Barker done the directing. The film wouldn't have had so many chunks of useless dialogue, and the characters would've been that much more interesting. Still, Harrison does keep to the material, and the moments where the plasma is allowed to flow and the skin is shown, it's a welcome sight. Really, this is one for the diehard fans of the stories. Everyone else will be bored to frustration.