Over the past week or two, I've really struggled to make peace with It's in the Blood. But I want to make one thing quite clear right now - that struggle is not, in any way, a bad thing. I think. I'm not really sure, but after two viewings and a large amount of thought, I'm relatively sure that it's not a bad thing.
One of the easiest things to do when you watch a ton of movies is to start comparing them to each other. The Cabin in the Woods gets compared to Shaun of the Dead because they're both horror comedies, Friday the 13th gets compared to Halloween because they both have masks and knives and what not. And when you're trying to gauge how effective a film is, your mind goes straight to whatever you can compare it to. It's no different than when you go shopping and compare prices/qualities of other products, really.
So why have I struggled so mightily with It's in the Blood? Because I couldn't think of anything I've ever seen that is quite like it. Some of the themes and images are familiar, to be sure, but the way in which the whole film comes together is incredibly unique.
We'll start with the easy stuff. The film follows a son (played by writer/producer Sean Elliot) who returns to the country home of his father for a bit of wilderness adventure. As the son and father head out into the woods, they run into things like dead dogs, strange visions, and ominous spirits - the kind of things we've naturally come to expect (and accept) from horror films. His father is an old-fashioned, gruff, alcohol-swigging sheriff, played by none less than genre icon Lance Henriksen. We know what we can get from Henriksen, the same powerful presence that was harnessed by films like Aliens and Pumpkinhead, and his performance in this film is up to snuff with the rest of his storied career.
While the pieces of the film are common, the path that Elliot and co-writer/director Scooter Downey is one-of-a-kind. The film's official website promotes the story as a "psyche-saga", and even provides a fancy definition of that term. Now, I read that definition, and I even went and got a degree in psychology from a relatively credible university one time, and I'm STILL relatively confused to what that term means. But I think I like it.
It's the mindset - or maybe I'm supposed to say psyche - of It's in the Blood that sets it apart from so many other horror films. Elliot's character has a dramatic personal journey to make throughout the film, and his survival depends on his ability to stand up to his current predicament and the demons of his past. This sounds like another cliche too, but the manner in which Downey and Elliot present the story is so well done. There was a little bit of confusion early on, I must admit, but the story becomes much easier to follow as it rolls through different events and times. You're going to have to think a bit - if that's not your cup of tea, there's a Nightmare on Elm Street sequel somewhere out there for you - but I think that makes the journey through It's in the Blood all the more worthwhile.
I've written a lot about this movie so far, and I feel like I could go on for days. I haven't mentioned the fantastic special effects, I haven't mentioned the dynamics between Henriksen and Elliot, I haven't mentioned some cool and practical gore. I haven't mentioned many of my quibbles with the movie either, like some of the monstery scenes near the end or a few changes in tone that don't quite flow evenly. The trouble is, I'm still not done thinking about It's in the Blood and everything it offers the viewer. I'm not sure I love the movie yet, but I'm dang sure loving my experience with it.
More information about It's in the Blood, which is currently awaiting wide release, can be found at that official website or in a glowing review by FMWL's buddy Cortez over at Planet of Terror. I think you should look into it, obviously, because I've already watched the movie twice and I'm still looking into it. If you want a horror movie that asks you to think, It's in the Blood might be the unique horror movie for you.