Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Bloodline—A Family Film

Eventually, Evan’s son will need the sort of counseling he provides for troubled high school students. That is because the devoted father is both a social worker and a serial killer. He is not exactly the second coming of Dexter Morgan, but he tries to direct his homicidal impulses towards abusive adults who have it coming. Of course, his activities are bound to get messy in Henry Jacobson’s Bloodline, a Blumhouse production, which opens this Friday in New York.

Evan is very definitely the product of an abusive father. Yet, he is still quite the family man. His son was born several months premature, so he and his wife Lauren are under a great deal of stress. His mother is there for them, but she is often more of an annoyance than a help. As a result, Lauren understands why he sometimes needs to take a break to unwind, but she doesn’t know he is killing the problematic parents of his high school clients during his alone time.

Of course, the ER doctor who is murdered during the prologue will take some explaining, but there is definitely a reason for it. In the meantime, horror fans will enjoy the scene as an homage to vintage 1980s slasher movies—yes, it happens to transpire in the shower room.

Forget about his initial big break as Stifler in the American Pie movies. Based on his work as the likable lunkhead Doug Glatt in the Goon movies and his portrayal of Evan here, it is probably safe to say Seann William Scott is one of the most versatile and underappreciated actors working today. His slow burns ferociously as Evan, yet he also humanizes the homicidal social worker.

Dale Dickey is similarly great fun to watch chewing the scenery and stirring up chaos as dear old grandma. Kevin Carroll also stands out, for his smart, understated portrayal of Overstreet, the suspicious cop. Even though her screen time is limited, Christie Herring makes quite a memorable victim as the ill-fated doctor. On the other hand, poor Mariela Garriga has to do a lot of on-screen hand-wringing as Lauren, so she is largely overshadowed by Scott and Dickey for most of the film.

On paper, Bloodline does not sound like anything particularly new and Earth-shaking, but Jacobson’s execution is first-rate. He steadily builds the tension and manages to spring several surprises on viewers. Yet, what most distinguishes the film is the mordantly dry humor Jacobson and his colorful cast mine from the domestic horror story. Highly recommended for genre fans, Bloodline opens this Friday (9/20) in New York, at the IFC Center.