Blood from the doldrums
Picture of Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Michelle Monaghan saves Blood from the doldrums

Director Brad Anderson teams up with writer Will Honley for his latest thriller, Blood from Vertical Entertainment. Jess (Michelle Monaghan), a nurse and mother recently separated from her husband Patrick (Skeet Ulrich), moves her daughter Tyler (Skylar Morgan Jones) and young son Owen (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) back into her family farmhouse.

Within a few days of settling in, Owen’s dog manages to escape and scurries into the woods to return days later, blood-soaked and rabid. After the dog bites Owen and attacks him, the resulting infection worsens, and Owen begins to display threatening and harmful behavior due to the attack. As he spirals more profoundly into the depths of his illness, Jess discovers a disturbing cure. This makes her question how far she will go to keep her child alive. From the description alone, most viewers should know where Blood will end up.  

If you know his filmography, crises are no sweat for director Anderson. The story’s first half gets a lot of mileage out of the crisis—Owen’s strength is restored by drinking Blood, which changes doctors’ perception that he has anemia. Anderson also allows us to care about Jesse as she processes this information and becomes proactive about providing meals.

Eventually, Jess inevitably dips into the blood supply of her employer. When that stash of Blood isn’t enough, a visit to the pet store becomes necessary for the mom, desperate to keep Owen. This decision threatens her health when she pulls from her body to feed Owen. Divorce proceedings also constrain Jess with Patrick. A minor plot point exposes a history of addiction and neglect, making the character’s jump to blood donor credible.

Unlike many vampire stories, Blood succeeds as a drama, and one wishes they had cut the entire vampire subplot. Michelle Monaghan provides her usual quirks in the film. Her captivating performance brings the film to life, demonstrating the power of a single mother’s love and her ability to overcome the struggles of single parenthood.

Final Grade: C-

Blood is in limited theaters and available On Demand.

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