[Review] Roxy Shih's 'Painkillers'

Painkillers is just the kind of anti-vampire movie that the horror genre needed, although still focusing heavily on the main character’s thirst for blood. We learn that people who suffer from an intense physical pain can’t find relief from it until they start drinking fresh blood. This intense pain comes after a severely traumatic event in which someone feels incredible guilt and remorse. This is explained through the film as a psychological reason why someone goes to the lengths they do to stop the pain and shaking and gain control of their lives. In every aspect, the person affected is not like a vampire with the exception of the physical need to ingest blood.

I really enjoyed the realistic horror we're met with, in a scene that sadly happens to this day. It introduces the kind of person affected with this form of PTSD mental illness, a woman is on the phone with one of the friends who left her behind at a bar and is alone outside when she is attacked by another woman. Drenched in blood, we witness the full attack and listen to her panicked friend on the other end. We then meet our main character, John Clarke (Adam Huss), a father with his son Brian (Tate Birchmore), playing soccer at a park. Their time is cut short because he’s so dedicated to his career, and he was paged on call for an emergency at the hospital. Tragically, they fall victims to a car accident that Brian didn’t survive. When John’s wife Chloe (Madeline Zima) tells him about his death, he goes into hysterics of physically painful, overwhelming guilt and could only be relieved by sedation.

Through every intensive testing there was nothing found to explain the severe pain he was experiencing. At Brian’s funeral, he meets a strange man, Herb Morris (Grant Bowler), who tells him he can help him stop the shaking and pain. Eventually taking him up on his offer, he calls Morris to get more information about his condition and history of why drinking blood would help with the pain. John is desperate to get his old job and life back because without it he is completely disabled as a surgeon, driver, sometimes difficult to feed himself or do other simple tasks etc. Eventually, John faces too many moral dilemmas that he can’t face and tries to not use Herb’s sadistic ways with procuring blood. We were led through his struggles that escalated further and further into the movie that you may just have to see for yourself.

It was an enjoyable watch and a fresh spin on films pertaining to blood drinking without involving a vampire and their other myths. I liked the physical/psychological aspects of pain they started to discuss because I’ve always found it fascinating how true it really is. There were scenes that weren’t vital to the story and adding a lot of different places, but it was nice to see the progression with different characters as well.

Painkillers is now available on VOD and Digital HD.


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