A (spoiler free) Film Review of Shudder’s Original “Blood Vessel”
By Carlos R. Savournin
The survivors of a torpedoed hospital ship are adrift on a life raft somewhere in the North Atlantic. World War II is coming to an end, and the diverse group are not only at odds with each other, but are also facing starvation and dehydration. But hope arises as a German minesweeper ominously appears, and soon the group realizes that the Nazi flags waving aboard are not the only warning signs of the trouble they will face on the ship.
Written by Justin Dix and Jordan Prosser, Shudder’s original horror flick “Blood Vessel” could easily be passed off as another low budget B horror, but it is a hidden gem that I was happy to stumble upon while searching through the streaming service’s wide variety of horror movies. Also directed by Dix, the film is a rarity in independent horror by combining well written, likable characters and thrusting them into a situation that is suspenseful and terrifying.
The survivors board the ship to find the crew has been mysteriously slaughtered in a horrifying way. Searching for answers, they explore the ships tight corridors and dimly lit halls reminiscent of James Cameron’s Aliens, right to when they discover a little girl, lone survivor, who holds the answers to their questions. Suspense builds as the closterphobic environment itself becomes a character and the survivors begin to unravel the mystery of the ghost ship little by little.
It isn’t until the film’s 51st minute of its 94 minute runtime that the real answer, and main villain, are revealed. Many horror movies try, and fail, to build suspense and add tension the way “Blood Vessel” does once the main threat is exposed. It can easily tread the thin line between eye rolling disbelief or holy-crap-this-just-got-real! kind of revulsion. What Dix achieves is a mixture of the latter with a boat-load (pun-intended) of fun and carnage.
What was once their salvation quickly turns into the grounds for a bloody battle of survival. As the villain remains hidden in the shadows, each of the main characters fight to survive the night with their trust diminishing and dangers around every corner. With a rich cast of enjoyable characters featuring Nathan Phillips (”Snakes on a Plane”), Alyssa Sutherland (“The Mist”) and Christopher Kirby (“The Matrix Reloaded”), the movie is well-acted, well directed, and well written with an idea that is both original and imaginative.
“Blood Vessel” is streaming now on Shudder, and it sure is scary fun.