Blooded expounds on one of the most extreme internet virals created; the so called ‘hunt’ filmed by The Real Animal League, which still has many people debating about the authenticity of the footage. The Real Animal League website even goes so far as to pronounce Blooded as ‘ConDem’ propaganda.
Blooded is told as a documentary, combining The Real Animal League’s ‘footage’, interviews with the survivors and dramatic reconstructions. The story itself is about five young friends who head up into the Scottish highlands for a spot of deer stalking, with one of the girls, Eve Jourdan (Ifeachor), out to kill for the first time. After the kill, Eve gets ‘blooded’; an event where the blood of the animal is smeared on the hunter’s face. The head of the group, Lucas Bell (Nick Ashdown), known as Britain’s youngest huntsman, is after the heart of Liv Scott (Tennant) but she’s in love with another man. We then jump to daylight and the crux of the film hits, as the five friends are stripped down to their underwear and left in disparate locations across the hills. They each have no clue how they got there, and what is going on, as they are hunted across the hills by mysterious men in balaclavas, who make them read from a statement which denounces their love of hunting. Each is captured in turn and made to say on camera that hunting is wrong. However, Lucas refuses to abandon his beliefs on hunting, endangering the lives of himself and his fellow hunters.
The idea of turning an internet viral video into a feature film/documentary is a pretty interesting concept, however, Blooded does fall flat stylistically. The reconstructed footage feels like an actual film which detracts from the realism that the original virals created; with far too many stylised angles to fall in the arena of reconstructed, documentary film-making; one short scene can have up to five-plus angles which is quite distracting to the ‘real’ aspect the writer and director were striving for. Instead the ‘archive footage’ from The Real Animal League looks far more like dramatic reconstruction than the reconstructed scenes themselves.
The first twenty-five minutes of the film establishes the characters and their backgrounds which does add to the realism, but to a tiring effect. The relationship between Lucas and Liv is overly melodramatic and adds nothing to the overall film – it seems to have been created to give Lucas’s character the excuse to wander out into the hills at night. Ironically, by establishing the characters’ back-story and history, it makes us yearn for the Real Animal League to come along and start the festivities. The interview portions of the film do help create the sense of a documentary, but they feel slightly over-scripted. The interviewees also appear a little too happy for a group of people who have gone through such a traumatic experience. It is these interview segments that really let the film down; the characters are emotionless for the most part, and these segments do not aid the overall film at all.
When the film does get going after the unnecessary character profilings and meandering interviews, it is a pretty enjoyable romp through the woods. The Real Animal League handy-cam footage is quite compelling and fun to watch. If the film had decided to become a fiction film instead of a documentary, interspersing dramatic running around in the woods with the ‘archive footage’, it would have been perhaps much more interesting to watch. One of the most remarkable aspects of the film is the gutting of the deer. In the documentary on the DVD’s extras we discover that it is a real dear that the crew killed, and then subsequently ate – an attempt to hark back to the hunter-gatherer man.
The soundtrack for Blooded is also one of its most rewarding elements. Composed by Ilan Ishkeri (whose credits to date include Layer Cake, Kick-Ass and Stardust) the score reflects the theme of the film as the urban city beats are encroaching on the green landscapes, portrayed by rolling strings. The music is the bulk of the glue that holds the relatively weak film together; all in all Blooded suffers from its length and either should have been made shorter, or turned into a feature film. The score however does save parts of it and it will be interesting to follow Ishkeri’s career.
In the making of Blooded documentary on the DVD, the writer James Walker and director Ed Boase explain that they wanted to create a film that shows the terrifying nature of extremism in all its varieties, where people’s beliefs cloud their judgement, allowing them to forgo what it really means to be human. This is reflected in the harshness the victims are tormented to; they are stripped bare to their essential animal and made to survive in conditions humans have evolved away from. That is to say, the human has evolved into a useless species when it is brought down to its skin and having to fend for itself in the wilderness.
The DVD also comes with some deleted interview segments that don’t really add much to the story, along with one of Ed Boase’s short films titled Home Video, which is a Lost Highway-esque affair, where a woman wakes up to find a video camera attached to her TV. She begins viewing the tape and it is revealed that someone has been filming her out in the streets, in the shops and in her bedroom. It is a pretty fascinating little three minute video which follows similar traits and styles of Blooded.
Blooded is released at selected cinemas on the 1st April and comes to DVD on the 4th April – you can also watch the viral videos on the Real Animal League’s YouTube channel here