River Phoenix's final movie, Dark Blood, will premiere at the Miami International Film Festival
George Sluizer, the Dutch director best known for the classic THE VANISHING, was 10 days away from completing his film DARK BLOOD when his star, River Phoenix, tragically overdosed. That was 1993. Now, twenty years later, Sluizer has completed editing DARK BLOOD after a long and bitter road that involved insurance companies and a possible heist to reclaim the footage he shot.
Following an interesting story in Entertainment Weekly last year and some showings of the film at overseas movie festivals, DARK BLOOD will have its North American premiere at the 30th Annual Miami International Film Festival this March.
Plot: Jet-set Hollywood couple Harry (Jonathan Pryce) and Buffy (Judy Davis) travel through the desert on a second honeymoon, trying to save their marriage. Their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere leaving them to find shelter in Boy’s (River Phoenix) beaten down shack, unaware they will become his prisoners. Boy’s wife died of leukemia after nuclear tests occurred in the desert leaving him alone and far away from society. Buffy is seduced by Boy’s honesty and vulnerabilities, while Harry represents everything Boy hates about the civilized world and its culture. Buffy decides to sleep with Boy to buy the couple’s freedom, but these circumstances will push Harry to the edge, leading to a terrible tragedy.
MIFF director Jaie Laplante had this to say: “DARK BLOOD is a film of legend, one of Hollywood’s great mysteries. The tragic loss of River Phoenix’s outstanding talent is still profoundly felt 20 years later. We are proud that George Sluizer has honored Miami as the place to finally share his remarkable collaboration with Phoenix and the other great artists involved with DARK BLOOD.”
Footage has existed on the internet for years in low resolution. It is hard to tell what kind of movie it will end up being, but it is exciting that we will get one last opportunity to see the acting talents of River Phoenix. Who knows what kind of career he would have gone on to have had he survived. Some will say this is the director trying to capitalize on Phoenix's lasting popularity, but I think this is another example of allowing the film community to embrace another lost work.
No word on whether DARK BLOOD will get a release on Blu-ray, but I would assume it will eventually get there so we can all check out River Phoenix's final project and judge for ourselves.