By KEVIN HOOVER
Directed by Reed Shusterman
Written by Reed Shusterman
Starring Rosie Moss, Antoine Perry, Melanie Haynes
As often as we’re asked to suspend disbelief when watching horror films, it’s always a welcome deviation to find a well-crafted gem that fashions its story within the framework of real-world tribulations. 2021’s BLOOD BORN is not one of those films. Exploring the ineffectuality of a married couple attempting to have a child should be relatable to some, but the whole discussion is marred by plot holes, subpar performances, and awkward moments that makes for an unsatisfying chore of a film that not only asks for the suspension of disbelief, but that of common sense as well.
Married couple Makayla (Rosie Moss) and Eric (Antoine Perry) have nearly given up on the idea of welcoming a little one into their happy family. At a friend’s suggestion, they turn to the Gravitas Foundation, an organization specializing in helping the childless reverse their misfortunes. Ola (Melanie Haynes), a doula who’s been volunteering her time to pay forward her good fortune after Gravitas helped with the birth of her own son, is all too willing to assist, and it only takes a little prodding before the husband and wife open their home up to what they believe to be divine intervention. But Ola is no typical caregiver, and through a procession of mantras and rituals, Makayla and Eric traverse conception to birth, all within the span of a week. You’re expected to wonder how such an abbreviated process is possible, and the best answer the script offers is “magic.” Literal. Fucking. Magic. An uninspired explanation if ever there were one, kicked up a notch in absurdity when considering that such a thing was taught to a volunteer. You’d assume such trade secrets wouldn’t be so easily shared with the rank and file, but such is not the cause with the folks at Gravitas.
While the concept behind BLOOD BORN isn’t inherently bad, (it’s apparently inspired by the director’s own attempts at having a baby) the execution is terrible. The film wants us to believe that Eric and Makayla’s inability to conceive has been a major hurdle in their lives, so much so that they attend support groups and try to buff their efforts with good luck charms. But uninspired performances by the lead actors make it feel like they couldn’t care less about such pursuits. It takes better than two thirds of the movie before either husband or wife display any real emotion, and even then, it feels forced. Haynes’ portrayal as the supernatural doula is passable and the easiest of the characters for viewers to become invested in. When nine months are truncated to a mere seven days, it’s to be expected something wouldn’t be quite right with the baby, which leads into a vampire subplot that could have potentially worked, but the rest of the film falls too flat to save it. As for the Gravitas Foundation, what are their motivations for helping childless families expand their brood? They don’t charge a fee for their services, so there’s no financial interest. Is it world domination, one fang-toothed ankle biter at a time? Perhaps, as a thinly developed turn divulges that babies born through Gravitas intervention are groomed to become medical professionals that also work with the company to birth more babies in a circle of idiocy that could have benefitted from a few more details. But for a film that hangs its hat on the premise of garden-variety “magic,” maybe expecting anything else is asking for a bit much.
BLOOD BORN does attempt to inject some comedic moments into its runtime, which routinely come across as amateurish. A not-so-shocking finale which was probably intended to be a twist will surprise no one, nor will any of the preceding attempts to horrify viewers. For a movie that was born of the natural fears one could expect when expecting, there were so many perspectives that could’ve been taken; a ninety-minute discussion about teething would’ve been more interesting. Avoid this one like a soiled diaper.
BLOOD BORN is available now from Terror Films.