‘Books of Blood’ Movie Review: Read These Cliff Notes Instead [Screamfest]
Boy, Clive Barker has struggled a lot more with movie adaptations than Stephen King. Hellraiser got off to a good start before that whole franchise collapsed. Nightbreed was compromised from the beginning, Lord of Illusions was just kind of there and Midnight Meat Train was downright sabotaged. Unfortunately, Books of Blood won’t do anything to improve the standing of horror films based on Barker stories.
Not that King is a sure thing. There are always some Graveyard Shifts, Maximum Overdrives and Silver Bullets. But, he’s also responsible for Shawshank Redemption, Misery, The Shining, two Pet Sematarys and several Carries! Books of Blood takes Barker’s short stories and makes a series of bad choices.
‘Books of Blood’ Volume 1
After a wraparound intro where a librarian tells a loan shark (Yul Vasquez) where to find the valuable Book of Blood, the actual first story is about Jenna (Britt Robertson). Jenna suffers from misophonia, which makes the loud sounds of people eating and other annoyances physically painful. That’s actually a very relevant subject for a horror story but it’s not the main focus of Books of Blood.
Jenna runs away to Los Angeles, but stops at a B&B because she needs a break from the eating sounds on the bus. The B&B has a roach problem and Jenna sees scary people in the walls. Eventually, proprietors Ellie (Freda Foh Shen) and Sam (Nicholas Campbell) monologue the whole backstory of their operation. To the actors’ credit, they commit but it’s such a stupid mythology.
‘Books of Blood’ Volume 2
In “Miles,” Prof. Mary Florenski (Anna Friel) recounts the story of how she became partners with Simon (Rafi Gavron), the psychic who claimed he was in touch with her deceased son, Miles. The story explores the methods of his charlatan medium practice, and he seduces Mary. The explanation ends up being mundane, but not as mundane as the rest of the story.
Simon gets his comeuppance for preying upon Mary’s grief. It’s a pretty cheap Twilight Zone resolution that wouldn’t pass muster in the classic series. So far, all Books of Blood has to offer are blue tinted men and women showing up in flashes accompanied by loud music cues.
Tying it all together
The third story returns to the loan sharks, or so the viewer things. When the loan shark reaches the library, what he finds ties back to the “Miles” story. There’s so much more monologuing for an ultimately silly connection to the very title of the film.
Then it ties back to the “Jenna” story too and it’s a really silly reach. Give Books of Blood credit for trying to weave its three stories together, but it already wasn’t working as an anthology. At this point, the film just returns you to stories you were glad were over, and were already too long for an anthology. Seriously, 107 minutes for three shorts? Clive Barker’s Books of Blood were lucrative for him. Hopefully, one day someone will get a film right.