BLOOD VESSEL ** Australia 2019 Dir: Justin Dix. 84 mins
In the North Atlantic at the end of WWII, a lifeboat full of multi-national strangers take refuge on a Nazi ghost ship, where they get access to supplies and find a collection of horribly mutilated corpses. The motley crue includes a heavily scarred Russian tough guy, an Australian P.O.W. pining for a lost love back home, a stuffy antique dealer and a British intelligence codebreaker. The rat-infested ship clearly conceals an evil presence that plays on their own frailties and emotional baggage, and the discovery of a terrified little girl initially echoes Carrie Henn’s Newt in ALIENS. CRAWLSPACE director Justin Dix sustains a foreboding atmosphere in this low budget combination of elements from DEATH SHIP, ALIEN and assorted 70’s disaster movies, complete with an ensemble cast of mostly cardboard characters with cliched backstories. The score gives it the old Goldsmith-style malevolent choral sound and the point at which a towering vampire awakens (looking a bit like an unused, rejected early Gary Oldman make-up for BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA) turns the movie into an engagingly old-school monster movie, with a refreshing non-CGI threat. Some of the language (“Get fucked!”) is a tad anachronistic, but it’s diverting enough and the cast gives it their all. “Humans are the easiest animals to control…” sounds like it might be ripped from a tagline to a B movie whose name you’ve forgotten.
Review by Steven West