Two spacemen in the far future get more than they bargained for as they chase a rogue AI to a distant planet in blood machinesdebuting tomorrow in North America, Ireland and the UK on the Shudder streaming service.
The film is a collaboration between synthwave musician Carpenter Brut and French directors Raphaël Hernandez and Savitri Joly-Gonfard (who collaborate under the pseudonym “Seth Ickerman”). Carpenter Brut and Seth Ickerman had previously teamed up for the music video for Brut’s 2016 song “Turbo Killer,” which can best be described as two competing ritual sacrifices involving bad men and imprisoned hotties. In the video, one ritual takes place in a delightful artificial graveyard, while the other does its thing aboard – get ready – a spaceship in the shape of an inverted crucifix†
Cool. Car chases ensue, synthesizers blare, and everything is awash with the sort of menacing neon befitting an 80s tribute.
The filmmakers try to bring the same gonzo energy into their 50-minute sequel, blood machines, and for the most part they succeed. Sure, some of the dialogue can be clunky, and what might be enjoyed as “archetypal” after four minutes sometimes just becomes “unsubtle” if stretched too long. But these leaks won’t sink the ship.
The filmmakers describe: blood machines as a sequel to “Turbo Killer,” which makes about as much sense as anything else in “Turbo Killer.” Following the success of the music video, Ickerman (the Ickermen?) has raised €117,539 through Kickstarter, which according to Google is currently $128,284.42. Now I remind you that Avengers: Endgame cost $356 million dollars, or about 3,000 times as much.
For that princely sum, Brut and the Ickermen get an interplanetary space chase of bone-crunching sound effects and sexy-gross starships. Our two astronauts (Anders Heinrichsen and Christian Erickson) follow a rogue, AI-powered starship to the surface of a desolate world. While trying to destroy or restore the rogue ship (blood machines is either vague or I’m not really paying attention), they cross paths with a band of scavenger witches, who lead them on a quest for cosmic proportions.
Themes and visuals return from “Turbo Killer”, but the palette is crammed. The setting is completely otherworldly; the spaceman’s AI computer looks like a gold fertility statue Indiana Jones can’t wear; an angular spacewarp leads into a psychedelic nebula; and the cavernous interiors are reminiscent of a neon-lit Notre Dame. blood machines is not lacking in ambition.
Wait… did you say it takes 50 minutes?
Fifty minutes is an odd running time for a modern film. It’s hard to have the energy to drive to the movies when you know you’ll be home an hour later with your miserable thoughts. Conversely, 50 minutes is a huge demand when you are at a short film festival. You could be watching anywhere from five to ten movies at a time. And just think how conceited you could be to your movie-snob brethren who wasted that hour on just one screening. “Poor!” would urge you. “Poor!”
But now that so many of us are at home, now might be the perfect time for blood machines to debut on Shudder. Here’s the scene: you’re pinned down on the couch under a snoring house cat. A combination of spilled Dr Pepper Ten and Doritos dust has your hand welded to the TV remote, but you don’t have the mental energy to embark on a two-hour feature film. Maybe you should start another episode of whatever binge-able cable series was invented in a lab to hook your brain chemicals. But you decide not to — the show begins to punish your frontal lobe as much as your liver. This is the ideal time for a 50-minute one-time action.
glorified music video
Do people still use “glorified music video” as a way to criticize a movie? That’s stupid to say. The crow is a glorified music video, and it’s the most raddest ever.
The best parts of blood machines are the music video parts: the synths, the chases, the unexplained footage. You know, the general WTF edness. The non-musical parts are the weakest. Clumsy dialogue simultaneously explains too much while not explaining enough, and the initial standoff between the spacemen and the cryptic machine-defenders takes too long for the allegory blood machines is clear. Fairy tales move fast – there’s no pause in the Three Little Pigs to ask yourself, “The pigs have created an infrastructure that allows them to make bricks, and they can talk?”
One of the great things about silent horror movies like: nosferatu and The Fall of the House of Usher is that the characters cannot get out of their problems by talking. Once the nightmare starts, the conversation goes the way of the dodo. That tradition, to varying degrees, persisted in the poorly dubbed European horror films of the post-war era. Think Euro-cheap trashterpieces like Suspiria or even Night of the Demons in which minimalist spurts of English-language dialogue are sparingly distributed among actors who probably learned two or three English words phonetically just before a director yells “Action!” called out. in Italian. blood machines could have benefited from that.
Story or resume?
To quote my colleague Nathan Matisse, short(ish) films are often made by early career filmmakers to “serve as proof-of-concepts, [and] they play at festivals because people who might be able to collaborate on or fund a bigger project tend to attend. movies is both to tell an original idea but also to prove to the men in suits who have all the money that you know where to put a camera, when to cut a scene and how to stay within budget . -the-scenes video accompanying “Turbo Killer” to see just how small an operation the Ickermen performed. And you get to see a gas mask-wearing space demon looking at his smartphone in between shots.)
so is blood machines 50 minutes because it has to be 50 minutes, or because the Ickermen had 50 minutes of special effects that they wanted to show off to get funding for their next, even bigger project? Is it the way the Ickermen say to The Suits, “Look what we all did for 124 grand! Imagine what we could do with twice as much!” Maaaaaar.
But when The Suits see it, I hope they throw handfuls of money at the Ickermen and everyone celebrates with a few lines of Coke, which I understand is the primary love language of Men in Suits. I’m curious what the Ickermen do with their first feature film in development, which is titled – I’m not shitting you –Ickerman†
The hubris! I can not wait.