Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment
Director: Patrick Hasson, Juan Carlos Saizarbitoria
Writer: Patrick Hasson
Producer: Rick Dugdale, Roman Kopelevich
Stars: Gabriel De Santi, Bai Ling, Bree Essrig, Cherie Daly, Vida Guerra
A homeless man inherits a self-storage shed that holds the secret of his past and his connection to a bloodthirsty witch.
The opening title cards of “Blood Shed” spit out several factoids claiming that Los Angeles is the homeless capital of the United States, the number of homeless there may reach 100,000 in 2014, and 5% of them supposedly live in self-storage facilities. A good chunk of that percentage seemingly resides inside the Arat storage facility in “Blood Shed,” as the movie’s central location features more occupants in its units than many average public housing complexes.
Gabriel Haines lives in his car. After his estranged brother mails him a storage unit key belonging to their family’s estate, Gabriel is able to join the mother and son, newlywed pregnant couple, mute old man, transvestite prostitute, and loopy hooker sidekick that also live inside Arat’s storage sheds. Even receptionist Samira brings her gal pal Evette to the facility to hang out, because apparently it is the cool place to be.
Underneath the building is a domicile of a different kind. There, a female witch-creature with red eyes and dirty claws bounds around half-naked while putting upside-down crosses on herself, her victims, and anything else that could use a dollop of occult flair. Half-woman and half-monster (the movie is never fully clear if she is a witch, zombie, creature, or just a human with supernatural powers), Jezebel has a hankering for unborn babies and fertile wombs. There is also a mystery hidden in the locked trunk inside Gabriel’s storage unit that connects her to the homeless hero. And when that connection comes to light, Heaven help everyone who calls Arat Storage home.
Aside from that loose recap of the basic storyline, “Blood Shed” is an otherwise difficult movie to describe. Most horror films can be categorized as slashers, creature features, haunted house yarns, or what have you. For example, if someone were to say, “I’d like to watch a vampire movie tonight,” coming up with a suggestion would be an easy matter. Ditto any request for a “found footage” recommendation. But where “Blood Shed” fits in when it comes to adding descriptive tags is anybody’s guess.
Key among the plentiful problems is a roster that is terribly unlikable, which is almost as bad as the fact that virtually everyone is also uninteresting. Someone overlooked the basic screenwriting goal of attaching audiences to onscreen personalities and getting them invested in the outcome. “Blood Shed” ends up painting portraits for people without any real end game in mind about how they relate to the viewer and the result is resounding disinterest in how anything plays out.
Leading the charge is chief protagonist Gabriel. He wears a perpetually grumpy grimace that deflects audience empathy and his persistent angst makes Samira’s out-of-nowhere romantic interest in him as unbelievable as the plot. Topping things off, either the lead actor had a cold while filming, or constant sniffling is the best that the movie could come up with as a definable character trait.
Building owner Arsen is intentionally depicted as a despicable lout, possibly pleasuring himself while shirtless and watching Samira undress on a hidden camera, as well as firing F-bombs and making extortion attempts. If anyone is set up for a cheer of approval over an eventual bloody demise, this is the man. Yet surprisingly, Arsen not only ends up as a survivor, but he is the lone character that never even has a single deadly encounter whatsoever.
Even scenes themselves are confused about what their purpose is. In one moment, Jezebel materializes to knock every one of the characters unconscious as they stand in a hallway. A phony thud is heard as each head hits the wall or the floor and once everyone is counting sheep, Jezebel simply walks away. Fade to black and when the characters come to, everyone just stands up and goes into the next scene. Meanwhile, the audience is left to scratch its collective head and ask, “what is the point of all this?”
Belonging in some indescribable purgatory of not quite fitting any sensible classification might sound like an advantage for originality. Instead, “Blood Shed” struggles to be unique against a script and a story that is poorly paced and confusingly underdeveloped.
“Storage 24” (review here) and “Self Storage” (review here) seemingly kicked off a momentary explosion of storage facility-related terrors. “Blood Shed” suggests that any such blossoming subgenre might be better off trapped in a trunk inside one of those padlocked units.
Review Score: 35