Director – John Harrison
Cast – Jonas Armstrong, Sophie Ward, Paul Blair, Clive Russell
Release Year – 2008
Reviewed by John of the Dead
“Book of Blood” is one of the more recent Clive Barker short stories to be adapted into a feature film. This film is an adaptation of his very first short story “Book of Blood”, as well as his final prologue…”On Jerusalem Street”. It was Clive Barker’s first set of short stories(titled “Books of Blood”) that caused Stephen King to refer to Mr. Barker as “the future of horror” when the stories were first released back in 1984. Clive Barker has joined both Stephen King and the infamous H. P. Lovecraft as authors who have a vast amount of their stories turned into feature films, and he is not finished! Later this year we will be given adaptations of his short stories/novellas “Dread”, “Tortured Souls”, and in 2010 we will be given The Thief of Always. And of course…who hasn’t heard of the Hellraiser remake coming in 2011 by the infamous director Pascal Laugier, who directed the amazing French horror film “Martyrs”.
This film follows Mary Florescu, a professor and paranormal expert who along with her technology minded sidekick Reg, have moved into a home that has been the setting of several violent, and obviously paranormal deaths. She then discovers that a Simon, a new transfer student, seems to have the ability to channel with the dead, and she proposes to him that he become a medium to the spirits in the home in an attempt to be the first researchers to actually capture factual evidence of paranormal existence. However the team soon realizes that they are in for much more than they bargained for. They seemingly stumbled upon a an intersection/crossroads of “highways” the dead use in the afterlife. Not only are the crew in for something they could not have prepared themselves for, but the ghosts are vengeful, and plan on using Simon as a way to display their vengeance.
First off, I really liked how director/screenplay writer John Harrison thought of the Clive Barker fans viewing this film and found a way to incorporate both short stories “Book of Blood” and the prologue “On Jerusalem Street” into this film. “On Jerusalem Street” is not as well known as “Book of Blood” but is integral to the story as it puts the finishing touches on the story and was actually my favorite aspect of the film. Unfortunately, John Harrison also decided to do a really crappy job with the direction of this film in terms of the overall plot and script.
Here is the easiest way for me to say this…the script and screenplay for this film is horrible. I do not blame Clive Barker for this because this film is only adapted from his short stories, so the general plot stays the same, but a lot of the jargon used to fill in the time slot for this feature film was added by John Harrison and his co-screenplay writer Darin Silverman. I cannot honestly imagine what these guys were thinking when they began putting this film together. There are way too many things going on at once, and some scenes were honestly quite ridiculous and should have been done away with. There were several sex scenes that made no sense whatsoever and did nothing to benefit the plot or development of the film. Even sex scenes in 70s & 80s films at least have some sense of substance to them! I did laugh at how ridiculous the very first sex scene got started, but I will still admit that the scene itself was needless and only left me wondering “what the heck was that for?”. Once this film gets reviewed by more people(it was only released last week in countries that are not the USA) I am sure John Harrison will be forced to undergo a genre transformation and begin writing/directing mindless pornos and leave the Clive Barker adaptations to either Clive Himself or Ryuhei Kitamura who did a good job with his adaptation of “The Midnight Meat Train“.
I never found myself scared in this film, but there were a few creepy scenes that I am sure will scare others. The ghosts in this film didn’t look half bad, although I would have preferred live action decaying ghosts compared to the CGI ones we were forced to watch in this film. Maybe if this film had focused more on the scares instead of ridiculous sub-plots then maybe this film would receive a higher rating and not be so bothersome to watch. Anywho, check this out if you want. Heck, you might even enjoy it more than I did, but don’t say I didn’t warn you if you wind up thinking “I wasted an hour and 40 minutes on this”?
Overall, not a very good adaptation of the short story that got Clive Barker started. This film is a mess, and should really only be viewed if 1. You are bored and the only thing on television are MagnaRX infomercials, 2. You enjoy crappy movies that were not meant to be crappy but just came out that way, or 3. You are like me and are just curious about the film.