Don’t wait for the phone to ring, “make your own work,” actors are told. Stage a play with a part for you in it, write yourself a star vehicle and find the financing to get it filmed.
Veteran character actress Madeleine Wade took that advice, scripting a low-budget horror tale for herself, the similarly oft-cast Augie Duke and others, a picture that required just a handful of sets, limited special effects and a generous budget for fake blood.
It’s pretty bad, as a script and as an acting showcase. But if you’re reading this review, you’ve found “Blood Craft” — maybe on VOD or wherever. And if you’re hellbent on watching it, here’s what “Blood Craft” is about.
Two long-separated sisters (Wade and Duke) reunite when their hateful, heckfire and brimstone preacher pop (Dave Sheridan) dies. The film opens with Minister Hall inveighing against “the un-righteous; fornicators, drunkards, effeminate, homosexuals.”
Sisters Grace (Wade) and Serena (Duke) remembers what he was REALLY like. He beat and molested them both, lied to each about what happened to the other, thus causing their separation for years.
“Where did you go?
“What do you mean? Where did YOU go?”
Their rage (tepidly acted out) drives them to seek a solution their mother (Dominique Swain, who began her career decades ago as Adrian Lyne’s “Lolita”) taught them. German mother Hilde kept a book of spells and taught the siblings how to cast them.
“Nothing is EVER gone for good!”
As dastardly Dad is buried “right out back,” Serena has a thought. “”We can bring him back! We can make him pay!”
They will bring him back from the dead to torture and punish him for who he was and what he did. They never thought of Twitter shaming the dead. Apparently.
“Blood Craft” is a simple-enough exploitation picture, which means it has cheap frights, gratuitous gore and random sex scenes to raise the kink factor.
As we’ve already seen that Grace is a sex worker (“private dancer”), and heard titillating (That’s the intention, anyway.) tales of the incestuous nature of their abuse, we know this isn’t just about revenge, digging up Dead ol’Dad and putting him in a pentangle they draw on the floor.
“We call forth the power of air! We call forth the power of Earth! We call forth the power of water! We call forth the power of fire!”
No, there might be money hidden on the property, and the creepy kid they knew long ago, Tyler has grown up to be the county clerk (Michael Welch) who wants that money.
A couple of sequences stand out in this tedious, icky thriller.
Sheridan makes us understand how the preacher could have talked his flock out of enough money to create a scandal. He works up a fine spittle in the pulpit, smacks his head with his Bible and pleads, “Donate your conscience, save your soul!”
Grace’s troubled childhood put her at the mercy of the sex trade, as an adult — donning bustiers in a booth, dealing with pervy clients on the other side of the window, creeps with their “unreasonable” requests.
“Take your belt and CHOKE yourself!”
The kink here feels shoehorned in (ahem), nakedly pandering to the audience Wade and her director and co-writer James Cullen Bressack figure they want.
Sister on sister action? Preacher Dad “really liked it when I kissed you softly…like this.”
Wade and her cohorts took that “Make your own work” advice to heart and got their film made. Nothing’s more empowering to an actor than that.
But “Blood Craft” isn’t much to proud of, aside from that. Ineptly written, often poorly-acted and directed with little style or sense of how you build suspense, terror or even revulsion, it’s a make-work project the horror cinema could have done without.
MPAA Rating: unrated, violence (bloody torture), sex, profanity
Cast: Madeleine Wade, Augie Duke, Michael Welch, Dominique Swain
Credits:Directed by James Cullen Bressack, script by Madeleine Wade and James Cullen Bressack . A Gravitas Ventures release.
Running time: 1:35