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Blood Stains

Directed by Rob Malenfant

Written by Christine Conradt

Starring Barbara Niven, Gary Hudson, Lisa Zane, Daniel J. Travanti

Produced by Stefan Wodoslawsky, Neil Bregman

Not Rated

93 minutes

**

I often wonder how realtors in horror movies sleep at night. They’ll sell a house that has trolls in the basement or zombies in the back yard or even a history of violent killings within its very walls and they’ll sell it like nothing ever happened.

And Triple Star Realty, the folks selling the house in “Blood Stains” have plenty to answer for. This time around, Triple Star just sold a house in a neighborhood jammed to the gills with lunatics, madmen, small children, psychopaths, and now, lawyers and that most depraved subspecies of man, children’s book authors.

Thus, the lawyer and the author will begin sticking their collective noses into the dark underbelly of their new neighborhood, and what they find may well kill them.

Granted, it’s formulaic. Off the top of my head I can think of three or four movies almost exactly like this one with just slightly different characters and circumstances. Murder mystery / suspense buffs could probably name ten or twenty or more. There’s not going to be a whole lot here that you haven’t already seen somewhere else. Which isn’t to say, necessarily, that it’s not good. Plenty of solid plot building goes on in “Blood Stains,” and a couple of nifty surprises will pop up here and there.

And yet, at the end of the day, “Blood Stains” is better suited for a Lifetime special than it is for the video store shelves. The constantly philandering husband murdered by a jealous wife who may or may not have actually done it, and then subdivisions of jealously and revenge swinging in from all sides…these are all hallmarks of a growing trend, the chick slasher flick.

Oh, and I’m definitely taking credit for that one. “Chick slasher flick.”..where do I come up with this stuff? But as self-congratulatory as I’m being about this, it’s also pretty apt. It builds its suspense very slowly, toward an uncertain end. It’s laden with triangles in every direction, troubled pasts crop up and boil off, and love and jealousy are the primary impetus to the plot. There’s not a whole lot of blood (which is a surprise for a movie called “Blood Stains”) and the body count is pretty low. It’s really horror lite, a kind of distilled version that focuses more on building toward a conclusion than occasionally spiking the narrative with killings.

It’s an interesting departure, but in all honesty, I find it just plain dull.

The ending, finally, allows every one of the many, many loose ends this movie spawned to be tied up and laid to rest in a surprisingly bloodless fashion. In fact, this movie is so bereft of actual ACTION that less than three of the last eight minutes even really pass for suspense.

The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, and trailers for “See No Evil,” “Jekyll and Hyde,” “Dark Harvest 3: Scarecrow”

All in all, yawn. Genuinely, yawn—“Blood Stains” is painfully slow, and the payoff doesn’t even begin to cover the investment in time and attention paid to reach the end. Worth your time only if you’re into the movies Lifetime continually runs.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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