Thursday, September 10, 2015

Digital & DVDebut: Madellaine Paxson's creepy, frisky, funny genre piece BLOOD PUNCH

What might you get should you shake together Groundhog Day, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Time Crimes, Scarface, Edge of Tomorrow and Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit? That's some range of styles and genres, I know, and I doubt very much whether all those movies (and one play) were on director Madellaine Paxson's and writer Eddie Guzelian's conscious minds as they came up with the funny, frisky and occasionally ferocious BLOOD PUNCH, the award-winning-at-festivals genre piece currently making its DVD and digital debuts this month. But you've got to hand it to them: the duo has turned out a nifty little movie that would probably make all those other movie-makers, along with that famous French philosopher, duly pleased.

Paxson (shown above) and Guzelian begin their film as our brainiac hero, Milton (Milo  Cawthorn, below, right), awakens into, yes, a nightmare. Then we flash back a bit to the drug rehab center and a support group in which the stories told by the members are about to bore us to death when a new girl named Skyler (Olivia Tennet, below, left) suddenly opens up and changes everything.

We're then whisked off to a mountainside retreat where we meet Skyler's original boyfriend, Russell (the very hot Ari Boyland, below), and all sorts of weird things begin to happen. If M. Sartre insisted that hell was other people, and Groundhog Day indicated that it might consist of constant repetition, Blood Punch combines the two, along with some other ideas, to offer up a quite original little hell of it own.

What distinguishes the movie, in addition to its smart and tingly story, are the especially good performances Ms Paxson draws from her excellent cast.  Cawthorne's nerdiness works well for the humor, but the actor also possesses enough sex appeal and strength to work as the films more-or-less hero, while Tennet is full of sass and naughtiness and enough mystery to keep us guessing.  Boyland -- with his goofy grin, gorgeous body and face, and loose-canon menace -- is a cringe-worthy delight. I wish he'd been given a little more to do.

The movie -- a combo of sci-fi, fantasy, horror and scientific mystery -- is basically a three-hander (which for a time, moves up to five characters). What holds us in thrall most of the way along is the simple question of what is happening here, and why. That the filmmakers manage to pull this off for a full 107 minutes (that's long for this genre) should give you some sense of how special this particular movie is.

From a technical standpoint Blood Punch is well done, too. What special effects there are tend toward the bloody variety, though much of this is used for humor rather than ugliness. And the filmmaker's choice of music is smart and original, as well.

From Midnight Releasing, the film hit DVD and Digital venues as of September 1.

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