By Matthew Price
Fake Blood might be the most original horror movie I’ve seen in at least a decade.
The film begins as a documentary examining the effects of film violence on real life events. Filmmakers Rob Grant and Mike Kovac receive a fan-made video inspired by their previous collaboration, the under-rated Mon Ami. The fan found their movie unrealistic, and had a lot of suggestions for how a psychopath should murder someone.
This leads Grant and Kovac to question their own understanding of real-life violence. They’d both created cinematic violence, but had never so much as thrown a punch in the real world. So, they seek out real experiences– they shoot guns at the firing range; they spar with a martial artist; they meet with convicted criminals.
And it’s here where the film takes a dark turn. A mysterious “John” (real name withheld due to pending legal action) tells them about some of his criminal deeds. But as the filmmakers investigate his story, they learn he may have done far more, and far worse.
Even more ominious for Kovac and Grant, John discovers that they are investigating him, and he’s none too happy about it…
Part of what makes Fake Blood intriguing is, it’s hard to tell just how fake it is. Grant and Kovac are real people, and they really did produce a film called Mon Ami. But did they really receive a creepy fan video? Did they meet an unrepentant killer? Does he even exist?
The filmmakers refuse to tell us whether we’re watching a version of The Blair Witch Project or Making a Murderer. We’re shown multiple, contradictory Thin Blue Line-style reconstructions of John’s crimes. Further confounding our sense of reality, we actually meet the actors who play the “real” people, who may or may not actually be actors themselves.
Whether any or all of it is real is part of the metatextual fun of Fake Blood. Some of the “found footage” scenes feel staged. But then again, maybe the filmmakers just got lucky when the cameras rolled. Who knows? I will say this– there is no disclaimer in the credits stating that “the story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious.”
But the question of verisimilitude is secondary to the real issue being explored: why do we love movie violence? Is it cathartic? Prurient? Inspirational? Do movies create killers, or just make killers more creative? I’ll leave it to the reader to address those questions. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself coming up with a different answer after seeing Fake Blood.