Queen of Blood (DIR. Chris Alexander)
By: Addison Wylie
Two years ago, Fangoria’s editor-in-chief Chris Alexander rocked the Blood in the Snow Film Festival with his filmmaking debut Blood For Irina. He called it an “experience” and said the best way to view the film is by locking yourself in with it. He was absolutely right. His atmospheric silent film was a masterpiece and a sensory whirlwind; utilizing ominous music and smouldering cinematography to pull the movie goer into a dreamlike haze. It still remains as one of my favourite moviegoing experiences. There was nothing quite like it.
Alexander returns to the film festival with his follow-up Queen of Blood. The film has the artist pulling off the same types of mesmerizing tricks (a painstaking crawling pace paired with frightening imagery and a masterful performance by Shauna Henry), but because of how loose the experimental narrative is this time around, Queen of Blood is a haphazard endeavour.
Irina returns and she’s hungry. Or, thirsty. Or, both. She wanders the woods and when she finds someone to prey on, she locks on to them and drains them of their blood. We watch Irina hunt and wander, and hunt and wander some more. And, so on.
Queen of Blood is split into three chapters (Birth, Death, and Rebirth), but they all share the same repetitive activity. If I didn’t know any better, the third act plays as a filmmaker’s lark because so much of the style calls attention to itself.
Even though Chris Alexander and co-collaborator David Goodfellow were influenced by a number of personal favourites, Blood For Irina was a true original with an addictive audacity. Here, influences are in tact but Queen of Blood is pure imitation. As more of the same is displayed, the impact – and the experience – diminishes.
As mentioned, Shauna Henry is a wonder. She completely sinks into her character’s possession and unearthly instincts to crave on the innocent. She sometimes creeps so slowly, we worry if its possible for her to step out of the screen. I now understand why those movie goers who watched The Great Train Robbery were so terrified by the oncoming train.
Irina’s extraction process is messy, and Alexander doesn’t shy away. Even when the film cuts away during Irina’s first strikes, we’re forced to endure the nitty-gritty when the film abruptly cuts back in. And, yes, the filmmaker’s famous “blood cam” is back.
The supporting cast, unfortunately, appears apprehensive. Almost as if they question the film’s content and the filmmaker’s vision. However, Nivek Ogre has a breakout scene that will have audiences disturbed and astounded by his ability to literally throw himself into a role.
Chris Alexander has made a knockout, but now he’s made his first disappointment. The film is thin soup. Queen of Blood isn’t enough to get me worried though. As long as Alexander and Goodfellow tighten up the structure of their next project, they’ll be back on track.
The Toronto premiere of Queen of Blood screens on:
Saturday, November 29 at 4:00 p.m. @ Carlton Cinema
Click here to buy tickets!
Click here to visit the official Blood in the Snow website!