BLOOD CONSCIOUS movie poster | ©2021 Dark Sky Films

BLOOD CONSCIOUS movie poster | ©2021 Dark Sky Films

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Oghenero Gbaje, DeShawn White, Lenny Thomas, Lori Hammel, Nick Damici
Writer: Timothy Covell
Director: Timothy Covell
Distributor: Dark Sky Films
Release Date: August 20, 2021

In BLOOD CONSCIOUS, director/writer Timothy Covell puts forth a puzzle beloved of the TWILIGHT ZONE. Is there really a demonic infestation, or is it just mistrust and paranoia? How can the difference between these be determined?

The set-up is promising and Covell gives us a number of scenarios in which we try to figure out what’s happening. However, he commits a grievous narrative sin only twenty minutes into the running time.

In horror movies, it’s generally best (except when the whole story is about poor judgment or character flaws) if bad things happen despite everyone’s common sense. Then there are stories where the characters can be forgiven for doing things that would make sense if only they weren’t in a horror movie.

However, in BLOOD CONSCIOUS, college student Kevin (Oghenero Gbaje), his older sister Brittney (DeShawn White), and Brittney’s salesman boyfriend Tony (Lenny Thomas) drive through miles of wilderness highway. Their destination is Kevin and Brittney’s parents’ lakeside cabin in the woods. The trio arrive to find the parents – and the neighbors – all slaughtered by a strange man (Nick Damici) who holds a gun on the newcomers.

The stranger insists that he had to kill everyone, because they were possessed by demons. He isn’t sure about Brittney, Tony, and Kevin, so he lets them live, but he takes their cell phones and car keys. He instructs them to lock themselves into the cabin, then drives away.

The three of them therefore can’t call for help and can’t start the remaining cars. But neither do they lock themselves in. After having been confronted by a prolific serial killer, Tony decides the best course of action is for him to leave Brittney and Kevin and jog ten miles by himself in the dark to the nearest gas station.

This doesn’t go exactly where we might expect, but by then, damage has been done. Brittney is borderline helpless (“I don’t know what I’ll do if something happens to Tony”), Kevin is passive and weirdly resilient in the face of losing both parents, and Tony is both bossy and makes lousy decisions. We’re not invested in any of them, because their personalities seem to mainly be dictated by plot requirements.

Given all this, it’s to Covell’s credit that he does manage to at least keep us curious as to how this will all shake out. There are some nice logic beats, but there are too many gaps where tension relaxes.

This is not the fault of the super-ominous score by Sam Tyndall and Akari Uchiyama, which does heroic work is maintaining a mood.

Covell also seems unsure if he wants to explore racial alienation or not. Kevin, Brittney, and Tony are Black; the stranger is white. But then, a lot of the stranger’s victims are white, so this doesn’t seem to be a factor in his actions.

There’s a midpoint twist where the issue becomes more overt, but because of how it’s handled, it doesn’t have much impact. It’s not an obligatory topic, but once it’s raised, it feels odd to have it addressed this haphazardly.

BLOOD CONSCIOUS has admirable ambitions, and works as a broad outline. But the devil is in the details, and he’s insufficiently persuasive here.

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