Directed by Tiago Guedes and Frederico Serra
Written by Rodrigo Guedes de Carvalho
Cinematography by Victor Estevão
Music by Jorge C.
Cast: Adriano Luz, Manuela Couto, João Pedro Vaz, Sara Carinhas, José Afonso Pimentel, João Santos

2006/97mins/Color/Dolby Digital
1.85:1 anamorphic/Portuguese/Portugal/NTSC Region 1

Review from Tartan Video DVD

When Xavier Monteiro inherits his an estate deep in the countryside of Portugal, he decides to move his family, including his three children and grandchild, out of the city that they have known all of their lives to the rural village to start a new. Although his family is less than thrilled about the prospect of country living, they go with Xavier without a struggle. When they arrive at their new home, they find a town that is still deeply beholden to Catholicism and rooted in superstitious beliefs, who are not accustomed to change, further dissuaded by Xavier's lack of faith and devotion to scientific thinking.

Not soon after the family gets settled into their new home, they all begin to feel a strange presence and begin to hear voices when no one else is in the house. Xavier's students, who invite him to a seance as a form of entertainment and to try and lighten the mood, get the opposite effect when the psychic mentions a moment from Xavier's past that no one else is aware of. But the real shock comes when Xavier and his wife speak to one of the town's elderly priests, who divulge to them the history and truth of their new home, and the curse the seemingly haunts it.

Portuguese cinema makes a run for an international audience with this subtle supernatural mystery that is steeped in classic Euro-styled horror. The co-directing team of Tiago Guedes and Frederico Serra uses misty fog, ancient trees and weathered-looking citizens to build up an atmospheric setting that is ripe for Rodrigo Guedes de Carvalho's script to unfold on a battlefield where religious belief battles against scholarly deduction.

The onscreen frights and suspense are kept at a minimum throughout the story, allowing breathing room for the wordy dialogue-driven tale to unfold into a rather heated debate about the unknown that provides the true scares via storytelling and the steadfast stances of the characters on both sides of the argument. Carvalho balances both sides in his script fairly well, with a young priest and Xavier's wife acting as mediators trapped in the middle that seem to reinforce his own take on the subject at hand. The discussions and arguments that prevail through most of the film are only as successful as those making them, and to that end Guedes and Serra have filled their cast with some wonderful actors who really bring the script to life.

While Carvalho's script does an excellent job trying to dissect folklore, he seems to spend so much time trying to pick them apart that he fails to infuse his own satisfactory curse and folklore. During the unveiling of the origin of the tale that now haunts the Monteiros, builds up a horrific curse that should lead to a terrifying conclusion. The finale though is anything but, and while it does deliver on some foreshadowing that has been sprinkled throughout, fails to really draw on the potential that is there.

Guedes and Serra do bring some very subtle spooks to the screen that are designed to raise the hairs on the back of your neck, rather than make you jump. A floorboard creek here, a gust of wind there, and marvelous use of music cues to set tones that are just right. They tap into the uneasiness we all have when we are alone and hear something out of the ordinary, and do well by incorporating gothic-influenced rules for haunted houses. The result is a ghost story that isn't out to set any new standards or break any molds, but a worthwhile addition to tales that are best told under blankets with the lights turned off.

The DVD release for BAD BLOOD includes an anamorphic widescreen transfer, with the original Portuguese soundtrack in DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Stereo. Easy to read English and Spanish subtitles are also included. Of curious note is Tartan's DVD cover art. There are absolutely no floating ghost girls or eerie basements to be found here. Seek out the original Portuguese poster for a better visual representation of the movie.

A Making Of is included that is comprised of interviews with the directors, writer, and main actors as they discuss the origins of the story and the script's usage of the Portuguese take on Christianity and the legends that are unique to the country. It certainly adds a little depth to the story as they discuss their legends and where the ideas have come from. Also included in the original trailer, as well as previews for other movies available from Tartan and Tartan Asian Extreme.





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Review by Ryan Midnight. All Right Reserved. 2008. ©

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