BALLET OF BLOOD ** USA 2015 Dir: Jared Masters. 98 mins
Writer-actor-director Jared Masters, founder of Frolic Pictures, is a prolific filmmaker whose work channels everyone from Doris Wishman and Russ Meyer to John Waters, veering from the knowingly disposable CLIMB IT, TARZAN to the thoughtful, strange AGALMATOPHILIA. BALLET OF BLOOD trades in some of his familiar themes, feeds on slasher / giallo tropes like the asylum escapee and vengeful killer – and appears equally influenced by Argento (notably, SUSPIRIA and TENEBRAE), Aronofsky (BLACK SWAN) and Ken Russell (everything).
It’s set in Hollywood and opens with a dramatically under-powered scene-setter wherein prima ballerina Sylvie (Mindy Robinson), desperate for the coveted role of Giselle in the famous Parisian ballet, is shot by psychopathic Nisa (Sydney Ray), high on DMT and sporting an automatic Israeli sub-machine gun. The ballet students carry on with business as usual, as Nisa’s similarly disturbed, incarcerated pal Ria (Jesse Aaron) flees her confinement with plans to stage a unified attack in retribution for enduring a lifetime of cruelty at the ballet school. Meanwhile, prophetic Maren (Marla Martinez) begins writing a book on the events and her experiences at the school, which appears to be impacting on real events.
Masters balances a disarming narration with flashbacks, serious themes of abuse and body-shaming and occasional detours into full-blown camp. Some of the more surrealistic imagery compels – notably the human marionettes – and the finale is engagingly bonkers. Alas, it’s woefully overlong and, although Masters has assembled an impressively beautiful-looking cast (of both genders), their performances and, particularly, the longer dialogue scenes kill any momentum. None of the above are helped by often genuinely poor sound quality which, at this stage of the 21st century, is inexcusable.
Review by Steven West