'Aaron's Blood': Film Review

Courtesy of Gravitas Ventures
Uneven but quietly true to its odd premise.
6/9/2017

After an injury requiring a transfusion, a boy becomes a vampire in Tommy Stovall's family-centric horror film.

A preteen boy becomes a vampire in Aaron's Blood, the dour low-budget horror pic by Tommy Stovall, but this is no Let the Right One In. A closer reference point for this father/son genre drama is Maggie, the 2015 film in which Arnold Schwarzenegger played a father nursing his daughter as she transforms into a zombie. That's a pretty flattering comparison, though, for this sincere but uneven effort, which lacks both the earlier film's star power and its aesthetic coherence. This time out, theatrical prospects are slim.

James Martinez plays the title character, a single dad whose 12-year-old son Tate (Trevor Stovall) has hemophilia. After a bullying incident at school, the boy bleeds so much he is rushed to the hospital and nearly dies. He gets a transfusion in the ICU, whereupon he makes a suspiciously quick recovery.

Back home, Tate finds his body going through changes. He doesn't need glasses anymore, and his reflexes are unnervingly sharp, but it's not all Peter Parker stuff — Tate also has no appetite for food and is becoming increasingly uncomfortable in the sun. (Stovall, the director's son, has acted in only three features, all his dad's; his spiritless performance here may be appropriate for an undead character, but it also looks like evidence of nepotism.)

Through an unlikely and tough-to-buy series of events, two local vampire hunters figure out what's happening before Aaron or even Tate understand. One of them, Earl (veteran character actor Michael Chieffo), winds up explaining things to Aaron — who accepts his son's affliction surprisingly quickly, though he's desperate to find a way to reverse it. Earl believes there just might be a trick, but time is of the essence, and it will involve some challenging and extralegal leg work.

Genre buffs put off by some aspects of the movie may be somewhat mollified by twists it takes midway through, which amplifies both its compassion for the cursed and the pic's gore factor. And the further the script strays from non-genre family drama elements, the more engaging it is. But ultimately, the film's aesthetic and narrative shortcomings will be too large a hurdle for many viewers to leap.

Production company: Pasidg Productions
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
Cast: James Martinez, Trevor Stovall, Michael Chieffo, Farah White, David Castellvi, Michael Peach
Director-screenwriter-editor: Tommy Stovall
Producers: Marc S. Sterling, Tommy Stovall
Director of photography: Taylor Camarot
Production designer: Samyo Shannon
Costume designer: Jessica Erin Cary
Composer: Jakub Gawlina

80 minutes

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