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Blood Machines

Directors: Raphaël Hernandez & Savitri Joly-Gonfard (aka Seth Ickerman)

Writers: Raphaël Hernandez & Savitri Joly-Gonfard (aka Seth Ickerman)

Starring:  Elisa Lasowski, Joelle Berckmans, Anders Heinrichsen


An artificial intelligence escapes her spaceship to turn into a female ghost and challenges two blade runners to a galactic chase.


Initial Reaction


K.  Jam-packed with stunning imagery and featuring a killer synth score by Carpenter Brut, Blood Machines is a sci-fi steampunk homage in 3 parts.  Inspired by a prior Carpenter Brut music video directed by Seth Ickerman, it’s no wonder the narrative offers little coherence.  It’s really an exercise in style.  I mean this thing is dripping with style and CGI, both of which are very well done.  The gritty neon futuristic aesthetic and pulsating synth music are what this is really all about, so if you can shut your brain off and enjoy the eye (and ear) candy on display here you won’t be disappointed. C. What needs to be said right away is this thing is gorgeous. It’s brutal and grotesque but from concept to the execution it is art that I wish I could place on my wall. The reasoning is that the world feels lived in, even with all the CGI it feels tangible, a crucial element that’s lost on many CGI-heavy productions. If anything comes from Blood Machines it’s the proof that no matter how much money these companies like Disney throw at a project, passion and a strong artistic voice will prevail. That’s not to say a Disney film can’t have this and some do but it’s the old advice in trying to make something “perfect” you lose the most important part, personality. Now after I have a motivational rant about this short film, broken into 3 parts, I’m forced to say that while the visuals are outstanding, you wish they spent a little more time on the script. In the same way that the Iron Sky short took the world by storm with what could be accomplished on a low budget and a passionate team, then the feature came which was cool to watch but didn’t resonate on a storytelling level. That’s what happens here. Since the piece was inspired by Carpenter Brut’s music video that’s essentially what it feels like. However, there isn’t enough variation in the Brut’s score (while great) to move from traditional narrative to a more visual poetic style. The story’s concept is outstanding with spaceships being living creatures, entering into a psychedelic journey and I can appreciate how “heady” it’s trying to be but the lack of an engaging plot/characters doesn’t hit the way it could. Instead we’re left with something tiptoeing into “look-how-artistic-we-are” territory. This was struggling for me as a reviewer. On one hand it has some objective flaws, while on the other it’s a hypnotic blast that I can’t get enough of. However, what hurts Blood Machines the most is Shudder’s (or whoever made the decision) choice to break a 50 minute film into 3 parts. It doesn’t make sense, especially when the long opening credit sequence comes ⅓ into the second part. Maybe they did it because “people like to binge stuff,” or “they have short attention spans,” but all it accomplished for me is disjointment and being incredibly off putting. Blood Machines works best as an unbelievable proof of concept that I was constantly in awe of. Unfortunately its lack of engagement or emotional resonance, while choosing style over substance, doesn’t allow it to be as memorable as it deserves. J.  This was trippy as fuck to say the least.  To me, it gave off some serious steampunk-science fiction-Philip K. Dick vibes.  The production design and CGI look pretty remarkable and that’s a good thing because there’s a lot of it.  The world created in Blood Machines is unlike anything I’ve really seen before and CGI is necessary to create it.  Thankfully, it looks great and isn’t a distraction due to video game quality or worse, which would be crippling in going for the ride this wants to take you on.  The story was totally lost on me but I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the end of the world due to the amazing visuals and the unique world it presented.  3 ½ SKULLS. Response C. I think we’re all in agreement that the visuals on this thing are amazing and at many points the design is so good that you are able to forgive the lack of a story and character development. The other moments and after the hypnotic effects you experience while viewing it wear off, I found myself underwhelmed because there’s nothing to connect to outside of it looks “cool.” J. And I’ll go ahead and back Craig up on the decision to cut this into 3 “episodes.”  I’m not sure why we needed it.  The 3 chapters were titled the names of 3 individual female characters but there didn’t seem to be the need for added emphasis in identifying the three women as important.  It is also very “music video-ish,” which should come as a surprise to no one.  I will say that if you really wanna experience Blood Machines in the manner I’m sure Seth Ickerman would approve of, make sure your A/V set up is fucking stellar because you will feel this one on your eyeballs and ears to be sure.  K.  I can only echo Craig and Josh here.  It is first and foremost a visual experience...and only a visual experience.  It feels like a 3-part extended music video, if you know that going in and this sounds up your alley, you’ll dig it.  But if you’re looking for any kind of traditional narrative or emotional journey to go on, you’ll be disappointed.  I also think the 3-part split doesn’t make a ton of sense, though a 50-min short would’ve been an equally odd length...so there you go. Bloodhound’s average score: 3 1/2 out of 5

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