As a guide, Judge Daryl Loomis makes one guarantee: you will get lost.
You can't escape the wilderness within.
Family strife is often the stuff that drives movies, but it doesn't occur that often in horror. Sure, sometimes a family member turns out to be a killer, but dealing with marriage struggles or trouble with the kids takes too much time away from the murder for most genre directors to bother. It's in the Blood develops an intriguing premise by trading in father-son issues, but can't pull it together to make a complete package.
After a tragedy sent him adrift for years, prodigal son October (Sean Elliot, who co-wrote the screenplay) returns to visit Russell (Lance Henriksen, Aliens), his estranged father. While things are still very tense, they decide to break the ice by going on a hike into the woods. They get lost and start to fight, when Russell sees something in the distance that spooks him and he falls down a ravine, tearing a massive hole in his leg. As October tends to his father, memories of the tragedy begin to surface when, simultaneously, an unseen force begins to close in on them.
First time writer-director Scooter Downey presents some very interesting ideas with It's in the Blood, but there are too many things going on for him to be able to piece it all together into a cohesive whole. The survival story is the most interesting part of the film, which is bolstered by the fine performances from Elliot and Henriksen, who have good chemistry and make a believable parent and child. In their discussions during their hike, they allude to the tragedy that sent October away, and the truth to that is slowly revealed throughout the film.
That involves an adopted sister whom October fell in love with and a vile admirer who won't take no for an answer. Had Downey just stopped there, It's in the Blood might not have been much of a horror movie, but it would have been a better film. Instead, he takes it too far by introducing a supernatural element into the story. It's never clear why this suddenly comes up, but it takes over the last third of the film and keeps muddles the whole thing, keeping any of the threads from satisfying conclusions.
Still, with the strong performances and some pretty decent special effects (including one gruesome amputation scene), It's in the Blood is by no means a complete failure. Downey injects plenty of style into the film, from the realism of the wilderness scenes to dreamlike memories. It's nicely filmed, well put together, and at times, pretty suspenseful. The overwhelming amount of plotting keeps it from reaching its clear potential.
It's in the Blood arrives on DVD from Monarch in an acceptable bare-bones edition. The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer looks good overall, with sharp edges and realistic, vibrant colors. The night scenes lack detail, though, which makes clarity an issue at the back of the frame. There are absolutely no issues with the sound, however. The disc sports a great 5.1 surround mix that has very clear dialog and well-designed spatial effects throughout the channels that add significantly to the tensions. There are no extras.
There are definitely things to like about It's in the Blood. The performances are well above average for this sort of movie, it looks good for a first time project, and there are bits of strong tension. The story, though, is too busy and lacks focus, with too many threads to allow any one of them to make very much sense. I look forward to seeing where Downey goes from here, but viewers can probably skip this one.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Monarch Home Entertainment
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