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After having wowed genre fans on the festival circuit, Madellaine Paxson‘s directorial debut is receiving a limited theatrical release before its imminent home video and VOD release. It’s a shame that Blood Punch isn’t getting more exposure, because this supernaturally tinged comedic thriller is far more wickedly clever than most comparable Hollywood offerings.
The story begins with the meeting between bad girl Skyler (Olivia Tennet) and nebbishy chemistry whiz Milton (Milo Cawthorne) in a court-mandated rehab program. The sexy Skyler, who makes no secret that she’s determined to break out, devises a plan in which Milton will cook up a huge stash of meth in return for a giant payday. Although he’s initially resistant, she easily seals the deal by seducing him.
Eventually the pair, joined by Skyler’s psychotic cop boyfriend Russell (Ari Boyland) makes their way to a remote cabin in the woods to carry out their nefarious scheme. That the cabin is built on ancient Native American ground is an early indication that things are not exactly going to go as planned. Not to mention the early scene in which Milton watches a video of himself cutting off his fingers, a source of puzzlement since all his digits are still firmly attached.
Paxson and her screenwriter husband Eddie Guzelian, whose previous credits mainly include such kiddie-themed fare as The Tigger Movie and direct-to-video sequels to The Little Mermaid and Lilo & Stitch, have described this effort as a cross between Blood Simple and Groundhog Day. It’s an apt comparison, as the twisted storyline includes a mind-bending series of complications involving at least two of the characters getting repeatedly killed in highly violent fashion, only to suddenly come back to life. To describe more of the plot would be ill-advised both for unduly divulging spoilers and for the extreme difficulty of the task. Suffice it to say that the film realizes its convoluted scenario in an entertaining fashion that is entirely credible on its own bizarre terms.
The main performers inhabit their roles impressively, with Tennet and Cawthorne, who are married in real life, displaying an undeniable romantic chemistry and Boyland having a great deal of fun as the ultra-violent member of the twisted love triangle. Director Paxson displays a sure visual flair, most notably in a memorable scene in which Skyler and Milton enjoy a torrid liaison even while becoming drenched in the blood raining down on them from the recently killed Russell.
Making the most of its limited budget, Blood Punch is an audacious, gruesomely violent and darkly funny thriller that enjoys messing with its viewers’ minds. That pleasure is likely to be shared by the target audience as long as they’re willing to go along on the dark bumpy ride.
Production: Bluff Road Productions
Cast: Milo Cawthorne, Olivia Tennet, Ari Boyland, Fleur Saville, Adelaide Kane
Director: Madellaine Paxson
Screenwriter: Eddie Guzellian
Producers: Ethan Pines, Fleur Saville, Fred Schaefer
Executive producers: Eddie Guzellian, Madellaine Paxson
Director of photography: Neil Cervin
Production: Lauren Stewart
Editor: Sean Stack
Costume designer: Erica Howard
Composer: Adam Berry
Not rated, 104 min.
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