On Saturday, Blood in the Snow screened two creepy kid flicks, the first of which being Jennifer Phillips' debut effort, Blood Child.
After suffering a miscarriage in Singapore, Ashley (Alyx Melone) with the help of her maid Siti (Cynthia Lee MacQuarrie) make a pact with a witch doctor to bring forth a “ghost child”. But as time goes by, it becomes increasingly difficult to control, especially when Ashley becomes pregnant again.
I am hoping that Phillips is the beginning of a new cycle of bringing lesser known South East Asian folklore to the West (much like up-and-comer Larica Pereira did with her short film Tik-Tik last year). I found the whole concept of the ghost child fascinating, especially when Phillips explained at the Q&A that this is an actual practice in Singapore. When not filtered through the lens of a studio (like say last year's The Forest), delving into these customs comes off as a lot more sincere.
|Alyx Melone as Ashley in Blood Child.|
Blood Child was definitely at its strongest when it was dwelling on its lore. It was when Phillips fell back on generic horror conventions – and the usual trappings and logic gaps that plague these kind of supernatural thrillers – that it was less interesting to me. I liked it well enough though, even if it did end rather abruptly in a manner I wasn't crazy about.
Something I found unique was the pairing of the housewife and the maid. In most horror films, the maid would be played as an antagonist, but this duo were intrinsically linked by the pact they had made. Cynthia Lee MacQuarrie accomplished a lot with very little dialogue beyond “yes ma'am” and I spent most of the film trying to place why the lead Alyx Melone seemed so familiar. It finally dawned on me that she possessed both the looks of fellow Canuck Tristan Risk and the mannerisms of Heather Lankenkamp. Everyone else in the film just seemed to be circling in an ineffectual orbit around these two the whole film.
|Cast & crew of Blood Child. Photo courtesy of Joe MK.|
I think the core of Blood Child, built around its compelling folk tale and two strong leads, was solid, even if some of the interstitials fell flat at times. I'm all for the effort though. We need an infusion of new things that go bump in the night beyond the usual revolving door of CGI apparitions, flesh eaters and dudes in animal masks.