Review: Wicked Blood (Blu-ray)

wicked-blood-review-banner

Title: Wicked Blood
Format: Blu-ray / DVD
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Studio: Entertainment One
Original MSRP: $24.98 / $19.98
Number of Discs: 1
Language: English
Subtitles: English
MPAA Rating: NR
Wicked Blood is also available on DVD.
The Blu-ray version was used for this review.
A copy of this movie was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this disc is available on Episode 361 of the podcast.

Story:
Set in a small Louisiana town, Wicked Blood tells the story of Hannah (Abigail Breslin), her older sister Amber (Alexa Vega) and their meth addict Uncle Donny (Lew Temple). Hannah’s parents died when she was younger and she finds herself under the ‘protection’ of Uncle Frank (Sean Bean) who’s running the local drug trade.

Judging by the box cover and official descriptions of the movie you’d expect an action fueled, fast-paced movie but it’s nothing of the sort. Surprisingly, what you’ll get is a slow burn, character driven narrative that eases its way to a big finale.

wicked-blood-ps-nation-review-screen-01wicked-blood-ps-nation-review-screen-02

Hannah, it turns out, excels at Chess and the movie uses this and her poetic Chess-based narratives as a framing device. This is really where the heart of this film lies. She wants to get her family out from under the influence of Uncle Frank and his troubled brother Bobby (Jake Busey) so she lays out a cold, calculated plan as if it were a real life Chess match. Against this backdrop, Hannah’s sister Amber is falling for a local biker named Bill (James Purefoy), seeing him as her own way out.

The story moves along and the pieces all begin to fall into place with some interesting and surprising turns. What makes this stand out and rise above just another small budget, small town drug story are the performances by everyone involved. This could have been just another paycheck but each of the actors really brings their best and they breathe life into their characters making you actually care what happens to them.

Interestingly, Abigail Breslin and Alexa Vega have known each other since Breslin was around 3 years old so putting them together on screen as sisters seems like a no-brainer. It really pays off here as their chemistry is great and they’re entirely believable in their roles.

In a movie filled with really good actors, Temple and Purefoy are the real standouts. Uncle Donny could have been a pretty simple one-dimensional junkie, but with a good script and Temple’s acting there’s a depth of emotion, understanding and loyalty that genuinely surprised me. Purefoy’s take on Bill is so understated, filling him with a quiet strength that works perfectly for the story.

It’s slow to get going and the first 10 minutes or so don’t seem to fit in with the rest of the movie but it all comes together in a way that’s quite satisfying.

wicked-blood-ps-nation-review-screen-05wicked-blood-ps-nation-review-screen-10wicked-blood-ps-nation-review-screen-11wicked-blood-ps-nation-review-screen-12

Video:
Nicely shot with some really interesting choices in the camera angles, it’s definitely got some good visuals. There’s nothing especially exciting going on most of the time as it’s a very dialogue driven movie but the choices really allow you to focus on the characters and their stories.

Everything’s well lit and it looks great on Blu-ray. Scenes are sharp and clean and while it’s not demo-worthy material, it suits the story perfectly. Hannah’s on her bike a lot as she pedals from place to place but the locations were well chosen and help drive the story while keeping that sleepy southern town feel throughout.

Audio:
It felt a bit muddled at first, as if the dialogue was being overpowered by the music and sound effects but it worked itself out in the first five minutes or so. It’s fortunate that it did considering that the dialogue is really what drives the entire movie.

One interesting surprise was the music. While we mostly get a standard score throughout the movie, a few indie-type songs pop up giving it a very different feel. While it seemed odd at first, I think that ultimately it works within the context of the story and visuals adding to things rather than detracting from them.

wicked-blood-ps-nation-review-screen-07wicked-blood-ps-nation-review-screen-16

Bonus Features:
A bit thin here, just a few short interviews that don’t add a whole lot of information or background. They all feel like they were filmed to be a bigger part of something else and pulled out and placed here to fill out the features.

  • Interview: Abigail Breslin (2:28)
  • Interview: Sean Bean (2:48)
  • Interview: James Purefoy (2:50)
  • Interview: Alexa Vega (3:55)
  • Trailer (2:07)

Conclusion:
A surprise all around and really in a good way. I fully expected much more action and violence going in but what’s presented is a much quieter and slower paced story and it’s better for it. The script is good, nothing to light the world on fire, but the acting is so good that it raises everything else up with it. This one is definitely worth a look.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the movie using the Elgato Game Capture HD Pro screen capture feature.

Flag_of_the_United_States.svg

Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg
Flag_of_Canada.svg

 

Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook
  • Biddaman

    Louisiana? Sean Bean? I think I might try this one out.