One of the strengths that make Clive Barker such a great horror writer is his uncanny ability to create vivid and detailed worlds of unimaginable horror, and make us accept them, as realistic. Therefore, when I heard about the movie Book of Blood, I knew that it could be a rather horrendous movie, which I just had to see.
John Harris directed and adapted the movie, from two of Barker’s short stories, Book of Blood and On Jerusalem Street. In the leads, we see Jonas Armstrong as the young medium Simon McNeal and Sophie Ward as the psychic researcher Mary Florescu.
The movie starts with a man, sitting in a road bar. He looks and acts like a bum, he moves unsteady and deep open wounds, covers his face. As he is about to leave, he collapses and a mysterious man, prevent him from falling and abducts him.
When he wakes up, strapped on top of a table and it soon gets painfully clear to him, that the mysterious man is about to skin him, alive. However, just as the mysterious man is about to begin, the strapped man, tells a story and it’s that story we get to follow in the movie.
The story revolves around Mary, the psychic researcher, as she sets out to do an investigation of a haunted house. The house has a gruesome history, which John Harris presents to us in a swift, brutal and unforgiving way, forcing us to brace ourselves.
Mary meets Simon as he attends her class about the paranormal and she notice that there is something about him. Later, she founds out that he’s a medium and invites him to join her research, as she thinks he’s paranormal skills could be useful. Simon’s part in the research is to sleep in the haunted house, while Mary and her camera operator monitor him.
The first night in the house, a titillating and erotic spark ignites, between Mary and her young medium, a spark that Mary tries to brush off. However, as atrocious and personal issues from the past arise, the desire grows, until it becomes too hard to resist.
As the paranormal events escalate, questions about Simon’s true motives arise, and the borders of what’s real and not fades away and Mary must make a decision, of what she can believe or not. Meanwhile, the mysteries of the house start to unfold, with distressingly consequences, for everyone involved.
The movie mainly focuses on the two characters Mary, Simon, and their shifting relationship. That plus the fact that the movie is set in one place, the house, makes it a tight, up-close and captivating story.
Both Jonas Armstrong and Sophie Ward serve us with excellent performances and the interaction between their characters feels genuine and is a delight to watch. However, I think that Sophie stands out, with her portray of the icy, driven researcher and the struggle with her own lust-filled feelings is especially memorable.
The Book of Blood hardly has a dull moment, since John Harris tells the story in a fast, sometimes too fast pace, as he skips some relevant transitions. However, that isn’t something that I felt was troublesome for the movie, instead it made me focusing on the story a bit more, causing it to creep deeper inside my mind. I think that he also does a great job scaring us, without any clichés, using only modest effects and the story itself, as his primary weapons, which does the trick very well.
Overall, I think that Book of Blood deserves its own place in any horror collection, since it offers a revulsion journey, down the dark corridors of lust, betrayal and pain, with a rarely seen elegance that is hard to reject.