Directed by: John Harrison
Written by: Darin Silverman
Like most little boys, to me Saturday morning was perhaps the most special day of the week. Monday, and the start of another five days of school felt like a million years away, and the best way to celebrate was to wake up early, eat a bowl of sugary cereal, and watch a long line-up of morning cartoons. Fast forward a couple decades (give or take), and life hasn’t changed much, save for the fact that Saturday mornings now mean a chance to get up early and ring in the weekend with a little stack of horror films (and when one gives it some thought, is an H. G. Lewis filmreally all that worse than watching Tom and Jerry mercilessly beating each other with hammers?)
So on this particular Saturday morning, I found myself putting in a newly acquired copy of “Clive Barker’s Book of Blood” into my DVD player, which I had been meaning to see for quite some time. As an avid Barker fan, and also a huge supporter of the last film adaptation to emerge (Midnight Meat Train, which I was fortunate enough to see screened in Toronto at a Rue Morgue event) my pre-viewing hopes were quite high. Was I disappointed? Read on, fellow horror fan.
The film title is maybe slightly misleading — it is an adaptation of both “The Book of Blood” as well as “On Jerusalem Street”. The main plot revolves around the dark tale of Simon McNeal (Jonas Armstrong) and the events which unfold when he forms a relationship with his professor — paranormal researcher and author Mary Florescu (Sophie Ward). The film is characteristically Barker in the sense that the plot is much like a tapestry, with many different elements and aspects to the story woven together to create a fantastic and sinister journey into darkness. Without revealing too much and running the risk of spoiling any of the tale, I will quote director John Harrison, who very accurately described the film as being “…much more of a spookshow than a goreshow.” This is for the most part true, since the film masterfully creates moments of high tension without resorting to off-the-wall visual effects and is, at it’s very roots, a ghost story. But that said, the film wound up offering many moments of nasty on-screen blood-and-gore, and did so with style.
Simply said, the film is typical Clive Barker in regards to the atmosphere, the story, the characters, and the subject matter involved. The filmmakers also added a few small homages to the earlier Barker films, most notably Hellraiser (the attic of the house, as well as the closet I found to be very reminiscent of Hellraiser) including one scene featuring a set of dangling chains. Barker fans will certainly not be disappointed.
As for myself, it’s still early on this Saturday morning, and I see the world has been blanketed in our late February snowfall. While the city outside waits to be thawed out by the afternoon sun, I’m going to get another bowl of cereal and put in yet another horror film.
Until next time horror fans — keep it sick.