This is an official review for the Region 1 (US) DVD of Arcani Pictures 2014 Horror film “Blood Widow”, Co-Written by Chad Coup, Ian Davis and Jeremiah Buckhalt (who also directs). Blood Widow is a modern slasher film about a young wealthy couple, Laurie and Hugh (played by Danielle Lilley and Brandon Kyle Peters) who have just purchased a getaway home outside the city. What they don’t know is that the neighboring property was once home to an old boarding school where a horrific massacre took place years before. However, the sole survivor of the brutal murders still resides in the depths of the long-since abandoned building and when a group of Laurie and Hugh’s friends arrive to celebrate the housewarming, all mayhem breaks loose and the mystery woman fights back. The film also stars Christopher de Padua, Jose Vasquez, Kelly Quinn, Emily Cutting and Gabrielle Ann Henry.
In a nutshell, Blood Widow is a prime example of most slashers. What you see is what you get. Buckhalt and Co, who are clearly fans of the now well-established sub-genre, are all about the simple formulaic slasher antics done on a limited budget (estimated at $65,000). Blood Widow might be camera operator, Andrew Barton’s only credit as of 2018 but the film is decently shot and nicely framed. There’s a number of gentle camera movements and the overall edit is pretty good. The score isn’t overly memorable but the use of bass works well in order to create a few suspenseful moments throughout. If I’m honest, the performances are a bit of a mishmash but seeing as this is Peters film debut he does an alright job as Hugh. Danielle Lilley is cute and most of her general dialogue works, but the issue is that Laurie (yet another Halloween reference in a modern horror) isn’t all that likable and yet you’re stuck with her for the long haul. The foursome of Padua, Vasquez, Quinn, and Cutting are pretty raw and they have their weaknesses, but they only really serve to be fodder for the blood widow anyway. Like any worthwhile slasher, the combination of a semi-unique villain (that just so happens to be a strong woman) and a series of entertaining kills is what ultimately makes the film a fun watch. The all white mask and slick leather outfit, with additional black-coated armor plating, give the concealed killer a look inspired by Asian horror. A couple of violent kills are on display in the second act, the likes of which include a neck being slit, along with two decapitations. There’s also a nice early kill for fans who don’t like to wait, though it could’ve used some more blood spray. The big savage finish involving the widow and Laurie makes for a fun finish.
As is usually expected with independent films some of Blood Widow’s technical aspects don’t quite cut it. The quality of the foley isn’t bad, but the volume is too low in the mix for the impact hits to take effect during those action sequences. The audio levels are inconsistent and the mix of the respective channels is off. The bulk of the color grading varies hugely from shot to shot as well. Exteriors are in low-light due to overcast weather and the interiors that follow are suddenly bright and sun-drenched. Once the film transitions to-night everything looks better. The music choice for the party scene is your usual monotone dance beats, been there done that, give us something different. I’m not necessarily going to fault Blood Widow for lacking originality, most slashers do. In the words of alternative rock band Barenaked Ladies, “It’s all been done”. Still, critics have no choice other than to acknowledge that it’s a genre wide issue. Some of the secondary actors are quite rough around the edges, namely the pairing that plays the Wilsons, the couple from which our young duo purchase the house from. Most of the key characters here are throwaway ones, in the sense that we don’t really learn anything about them, nor do we care. That lack of exposition can work for films that either have a strong protagonist, or where the writers are just looking to raise the body count. Sadly, such is not the case with Black Widow, not when characters like Kelly Quinn’s “Harmony” exist. She’s an old soul with a hippie mentality that just doesn’ seem to fit the mold of the rest of the group of friends. There are patches of weak dialogue, most notably from Laurie. That and she can’t seem to make up her mind regarding the house or her relationship. Initially, she’s totally on board with purchasing the home and then out of nowhere she’s talking with her friends and questioning the decision, ultimately throwing it back in Hugh’s face. There’s a bit too much relationship drama for my liking.
I’ve had Blood Widow sitting in my collection for a few years so it was nice to finally get around to checking it out. It calls to mind similar indie efforts like, “Steel Trap” and “Bunni” https://adamthemoviegod.com/bunni-review/ and serves its purpose well as another low-level entry into the sub-genre. The artwork looks great, the premise is simple and both the camera work and music are pretty decent. Peters and Lilley’s respective characters look well suited to be a couple and the pair’s performances are certainly better than the rest. Most of Blood Widow’s budget was clearly spent on creating a memorable villain and some fun kills to showcase the practical blood and gore effects. On the downside, a lot of the technical elements needed some fine-tuning and the finished product could’ve definitely benefited from a re-master. The scripts foundation is alright but it offers very little in the way of character arc, that and some of the dialogue isn’t great either. The secondary characters, and in turn the actors, aren’t on-screen that long, which is a good thing because they’re rather weak. Its problems aside, Blood Widow is a perfectly serviceable slasher with a quick run time of just 77 minutes. I can recommend this one to fans of independent horror and the aforementioned films. Check out the official trailer below and if you want to purchase the film you can do so from a number of different outlets.
My rating for “Blood Widow” is 5.5/10