I’ve never understood the conspiracy theories behind the Nazis and their purported beliefs in the occult. Do these people really need their blind hatred and misanthropy explained, or is this a matter of demonizing the pagan religions by associating them with Hitler and the boys? That said, when done correctly, such shoestring connections make for some entertaining film, as is the case with the nautical vampire horror that is Justin Dix’s Blood Vessel.
A group of lifeboat-riding survivors find their only hope aboard a Nazi warship which just so happens to be carrying a couple of bloody secrets in the cargo bay. Without any other options, and shore miles and miles away, the castaways get onto the German minesweeper, exploring the seemingly-abandoned ship as they attempt to make it out of the northern Atlantic Ocean. When the ancient evil on the ship awakens, the ship threatens to become their tomb.
For a film called Blood Vessel, the violence needs to either be frequent, impactful, or even both. I wouldn’t say it’s in column A, but it is firmly in column B, as the spectacular kills we do get are, in a word, juicy. When the red stuff gets spilled, it is in great quantity and quality, making the kills that much more satisfying to watch. On the subject of special effects, the makeup on The Patriarch and The Matriarch (Troy Larkin and Vivienne Perry, respectively) makes them look centuries old, almost zombie-like, but no less menacing as our vampire antagonists.
Visually, the overall presentation is drab and dark. The interior of the ship is dimly lit, and while it certainly is atmospheric, it does make a handful of moments harder to see. What does work, though, is the red filter that the screen gets when a member of the would-be crew is overtaken by The Patriarch’s powers. There is also an excellent two-shot sequence with Faraday (John Lloyd Fillingham) and The Patriarch which is another great editing choice.
All told, though, given the hook of “Nazi vampires at sea,” I was expecting a little faster pacing and less of a lull between kills. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the film drags on in any particular section, but it’s not until we’re introduced to the Strigoi (the name for the vampire couple) that things seriously pick up steam. In this respect, it’s a film of two parts: exploration of the ship and extermination of the unwitting passengers. Temper expectations just a bit, and you’re in for a serious treat of an action/adventure spin on the vampire film.
Blood Vessel is streaming exclusively on Shudder, with a Blu-Ray release available through Umbrella Entertainment.