Blood Widow is a 2014 slasher film directed by Jeremiah Buckhalt.
In my prep for the review, I was unable to find anything else related to Mr. Buckhalt, and so, I’m thinking this was his directorial debut. The film comprises itself of a cast that includes Daniel Lilley, Brandon Kyle Peters, and Christopher de Padua. A roll call will tell you that the actors involved are relatively new to the industry as well. In other words, a little known cast, a little known director, and what we’ll call a modest budget. If you had not heard of this film, these factors likely contributed to that.
I had not heard of Blood Widow either before I discovered it at a video store called Family Video (editor’s note: now, as of 2021, Family Video is no longer open) and decided it was worth my time and a few bits of change from my pocket. I did not expect very much from it, and, really, the only reason I went it at all was because I enjoyed the cover work.
The cover work, as glimpsed at in the Featured Image, makes me think of Dollface from the Twisted Metal series, and frankly, it looked ‘cool’. Sometimes, when I’m in the right mood, I can be a easy person to win over. Win, lose, or draw, knowing me, I would probably do it again, but, what will ya do?
The film follows the story of Laurie and Hugh, a young couple that has just closed in on their weekend home away from the city. Hugh decides to have a party without telling Laurie, blah, and blah, when, unbeknownst to them, the property next door is actually the remains of an old boarding school. Why is this relevant? The sole survivor of a massacre still lives there, wanting to be left be. However, when she is disturbed, they unleash the sadistic figure into their lives.
The premise itself sounds interesting enough by most horror standards. I have a lot of fun with the slasher genre, but, oftentimes, it genre’s storyline can often be treated like the wraparound context of a porno film – you expect it there, but you mostly want to see the “action” (although your porn of choice doesn’t see its actors covered in blood, screaming in agony).
The film unfolds in an admittedly generic fashion, a basic formula of introducing the characters and having them stumble before the antagonist. As prefaced, this isn’t a death sentence on-paper, but a lack of likability and depth to the characters and their portrayal really do them in. Again, characters in this subgenre don’t exactly have to be “layered,” but they usually abide a simple, palatable formula, and they prosper when they have a cast that can charm their way out of said shortcomings, and a director that can misdirect at the helm. This film, unfortunately, doesn’t have any of that.
The antagonist and much of the film cherry pick other established conventions, but is unable to derive what made them originally succeed. I was excited about the slasher villain, if only because her “look,” and because, after all these years, I can’t think of a single instance of a successful female slasher villain. Blood Widow is, alas, unable to do what I believe is one of the most important aspects of the genre, creating a slasher villain with an actual presence.
I understand and respect that this is a film thwarted by a low-budget, and that it’s a film by newcomers of the craft. For that reason, I do honestly commend them for the effort. Making a film’s difficult. As a viewer, however, I can’t recommend it. It is a film that does not have the technique for the craft to play it straight, and, instead of doing what a lot of other low-budget horror does and resorting to comedy, it does it anyway. In some ways, I respect that. However, what it all amounts to is a film that I couldn’t find anything about that was worth recommending.