The Blood of God
25 Feb 2022
Richard Littlehales, Matias Klaver, Vicki Gard
Be prepared for an unrelentingly intense watch with The Blood of God – a heart-wrenching drama served well by its deconstruction of its characters, but one which suffers from a story that loses its way too often, as well its sacrificing of authenticity for allegory.
Euan Morris (Richard Littlehales) is a young religious student living with his father Ted (Matias Klaver). A talented pianist, he dreams of leaving home to study music. But his father is concerned about his friendship with Mitchell (Ethan Taylor), a known delinquent. As Richard prepares to pursue his dreams, an illicit experience with Mitchell leaves him with a drug addiction and a life-changing illness – throwing his future, and his relationship with his father into serious trouble…
The Blood of God’s most impressive element is the depth it brings to its characters, and the deconstruction of their beliefs throughout the story. Each member of its varied cast undergoes a journey – primarily Euan’s harrowing odyssey through drug addiction, illness and arrest, and his father’s reflection on his dogmatic religious views. Religion is at the heart of the film, and director Davo Hardy is not afraid to confront its unsightly elements as well as present the spiritual positives in a balanced way that too few directors are willing.
However, the film disappointingly handles other matters in a way that feels reductive. Euan’s HIV infection is presented as a consequence of his actions, and the film never really dismisses the unfortunate perception that this is believed by some to be a punishment for sin – a discredited and discriminatory stigma that many around the world have to live with. His drug addiction also develops astoundingly quickly. For a gritty and grounded story, this has a damaging impact on immersion and realism despite being a key part of the film thematically. The contrived way the story is progressed (such as a BLATANT doctor-patient confidentiality breach, and detective seemingly willing to totally disregard the rule of law) becomes more and more manufactured and ridiculous – to the film’s considerable detriment.
The acting is a mixed-bag. Viewers will feel second-hand pain for Richard Littlehales facial muscles, as he grimaces and scrunches his face so much throughout the film, you’d think his addiction was to Immodium. His anguished reactions result in diminishing returns, and feels like the film’s only go-to to demonstrate Euan’s suffering. Euan’s petulance slowly becomes unlikable, and not seemingly by design. The majority of the cast put in serviceable efforts around this, though chemistry is lacking between these individual performances. Only Euan and girlfriend Kirsty (Kelly Mcrae), and Euan and his father share the kind of synergy that is required to convincingly portray the apparent bond the film wants to suggest. The film’s presentation of prostitutes Dani-Marie (Kat Campbell) and Candy Caine (Caroline McQuade) is also laughably bad, and feels like something out a ‘very special’ episode of a bad 80s sitcom.
Production is sleek, with impressive sets for the church and prison scenes (considering the film’s smaller budget), and clean, considered shooting that allows the characters to take the focus and drive the story. The soundtrack echoes generic Christian rock music – and acts as an interesting misdirection considering that the story is anything but standard religious fare.
The Blood of God is an admirable film that works well thematically, and as a deconstruction of characters that feature impressive depth. But it is let down by storytelling that lacks legibility and believability, as well as hammy acting which grates over the film’s runtime.