Thursday, August 16, 2018

Scary Movies XI: Blood Paradise

Robin Richards is like a cross between E.L. James and Anne Rice, except she might just be completely written out. Hey, it happens to the worst of us too. To reignite her inspiration, Richards’ agent has booked her a stay at a quaint Swedish farm. It might even work, if Richards survives the experience in Patrick von Barkenberg’s Blood Paradise (trailer here), which screens during the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual Scary Movies series.

Richards has a lavish lifestyle and a pampered boy toy to support. Unfortunately, her last book, Return to Blood Paradise, a sequel to her bestselling Blood Paradise bombed hard. As a result, she has to go along with the plan when her agent dispatches her to the rustic working farm-B&B. Of course, it is worse than Richards could have imagined: no cell service, outdoor privies, and the ragingly psychotic Former Rolf.

Blood Paradise starts with an intriguing premise: the scandalous writer forced to confront the weirdness of rural Sweden. It is sort of the genre version of Doc Hollywood, where the locals really are sadistic murderers. Co-screenwriter-co-everything Andréa Winter is also a spectacularly hot mess as Richards. Unfortunately, the second and third acts are just a lot of same-old-same-old disappointments. It really is a bummer, because Richards is such a promising character, but she just turns into a typical horror movie idiot down the stretch.

Winter really is a delight haughtily rolling her eyes in the early scenes. Frankly, we have a hard time believing von Barkenberg as Teddy, the himbo kept-man, but maybe some women out there would beg to differ. Regardless, we should all be able to agree Christer Cavallius’s smarmy shtick as Richards’ “Number One Fan” Hans Bubi quickly grows tiresome. As sexually confused serial killers go, Rolf Brunnstrom’s Farmer Rolf is also unusually dull, but he is Swedish after all.

Somewhere around the half-hour mark, von Barkenberg lost sight of the snarky attitude, but kept plowing ahead anyway. The results are highly forgettable, which is a cardinal sin for a film like this. Maybe someone else could write a film that better showcased Winter and her Richards character. They could call it Return to Blood Paradise. Not recommended, von Barkenberg’s Blood Paradise screens Saturday night (8/18) at the Walter Reade, as part of Scary Movies XI.