She speaks up, because it’s not her first meeting.
“I’m Ellie, and I’m an addict.”
Pills, she says, “took the life out of life, which is exactly what I wanted.” She chased away her husband but somehow held onto her kids. Now she’s starting over in Chicago, renting a stately Queen Anne house for them in “a sketchy neighborhood.” Maybe this time will be different. She surrenders the floor.
Christopher takes a turn, brooding, sympathetic, “Do I stand up like they do in the movies?” It’s his “first meeting.” He says.
“I’ve just torn through…so many people.”
You bet your beetle brow he has. We’ve seen the aftermath of his mayhem in an opening scene of “Family Blood,” a cheerleader stalked through a ruined house, bodies stuffed in a closet.
Her crucifix? “It doesn’t work. RUN.” But he is at every doorway as she tries to flee.
“Family Blood” is a gloomy but dull vampire tale set against the backdrop of 12 step programs. “It’s like any other addiction…manageable,” Christopher (James Ransone) reassures Ellie (Vinessa Shaw), after killing her fellow addict and enabler, and then “turning” her.
“It doesn’t get easier.” She may be a VILF, now. But Ellie knows.
That’s a promising premise, one touched on in countless vampire “romances.” Here, they actually go to meetings (not that their fellow addicts realize it). It’s just a high concept abandoned, or forgotten, in the slow clumsy thriller to follow.
“Blood” has hints of Every Kids’ Nightmare, with an addict for a parent whose even-weirder behavior doesn’t look weird enough to suspect that her AA meeting “friend” Christopher loves Halloween.
But when he knocks at the door, her son Kyle (Colin Ford) is leery. He’s seen the movies, practiced drawing demons. Should he invite him in?
“Doesn’t work” is Christopher’s favorite line. “I was just being polite.”
It begins promisingly enough, with Ellie taking it “one day at a time” and Kyle instantly acting-out in his new school. The fire alarm goes off, her teacher orders Ellie’s younger daughter ( Eloise Lushina) to evacuate.
“It’s just my stupid brother.”
A brooding rebel is catnip to Meegan (Ajiona Alexus). But the boy has bigger problems. And he thinks Mom’s drug addiction is the worst of them.
Co-writer/director Sonny Mallhi (“The Roommate”) doesn’t manage any suspense here, giving away the whole blood-sucker thing in the opening, then failing to make Ellie’s peril something she senses, or is lured into ignoring. No seduction, befriending, what have you. The vampire is just in her business and that’s that.
The pacing is, like the music, funereal. The vampire tropes — rare meat, tempting paper cuts, “C’mere, putty cat,” etc. — blasé, tired.
The kids are here for pathos, but that doesn’t pan out either. How they ended up in the custody of a not-really-recovering addict should make them both bitter, looking to get out. No matter how fancy the house. An “unreachable” Dad is a blown opportunity.
At least B-movie horror mainstay Ransone takes a stab (thanks to the script) at being funny. The litany of “Doesn’t work” vampire preventions get a laugh.
Aside from that, all we get out of this is a lot of pretty people spattered in fake blood.
MPAA Rating: TV:MA
Cast: Vinessa Shaw, James Ransone, Colin Ford, Eloise Lushina, Ajiona Alexus
Credits: Directed by Sonny Mallhi, script by Nick Savvides, Sonny Mallhi. A Blumhouse/Netflix release.
Running time: 1:32