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Blood Car
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by Jay Seaver

"10 miles to the pint."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2008 INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL OF BOSTON: "Blood Car" has an idea that has loads of potential, introduces it in witty fashion, and an ending that is just gleefully over the top. It's also got a half hour or forty-five minutes (out of seventy-five) between those two bookends that bring into question whether or not the group of friends that made the movie are up to the job, despite it having all the blood, boobies, and black comedy you expect from a movie with this title.

It is the future, we're told, two or three weeks down the line. The price of gas has risen to over $30/gallon, so the car has more or less been abandoned; teenagers looking to get laid in a car's back seat are stuck going to automobile graveyards. Proudly vegan kindergarten teacher Archie Andrews (Mike Brune) is working on an engine that would run on wheat grass - which he purchases from cute organic produce merchant Lorraine (Anna Chlumsky), who totally has a crush on him. He can't make it work until he cuts himself on a broken bottle and finds that human blood gets the motor working. Once he's got Atlanta's only working automobile, it's not Lorraine he takes out, but Denise (Katie Rowlett), who runs the meat stand across the way. Now that he's getting laid, though, he needs fresh sources of fuel to keep it coming. Meanwhile, the government is very interested in this new development.

There are some fun bits to Blood Car, from the goofy stuff found on the blackboards in Archie's class to the nasty picture Lorraine doodles waiting for Archie to arrive. That's a recurring theme of the stuff that works - when you're making movies with your buddies for a zero-dollar budget, you can be as crude and mean as you want and nobody will say, no, you can't have Archie crying over his attempts to shoot cute squirrels and dogs with a BB gun (and, since it's a BB gun, it takes a few agonizing shots to get the job done. The end is a riot of "that's just wrong!" that doesn't all work, but what does is wrong in all the right ways.

The trouble is that between the opening and the finale, the movie just sort of shows up. It teases us with a montage of Archie salvaging and constructing what amounts to a giant body-pureeing blender in the trunk of his car, but that means most of the goriness happens out of sight, with just screaming after Archie throws people in the trunk and spurts of blood when it's not sealed airtight. It's nice fake blood, but it does sort of feel like we're not seeing the good stuff. Even the advertised gratuitous nudity is just girls opening their shirts for the guy with a car, not especially super-clever. The plot with the government agents watching Archie only makes the smallest bit of sense.

Then, of course, there's Brune and Rowlett not really being the great actors, and it stops being fun after a while. They're supposed to be playing broad types, of course, but they really don't bring much more personality than "I'm a vegan with flimsy scruples!" and "I'm a bitch!" Those one notes aren't enough to sustain the movie through the middle, especially since they aren't that much fun to watch together. Anna Chlumsky is a lot more fun as Lorraine, but she only shows up in a few brief scenes. The government guys are difficult to tell apart.

It's a pity, really. Good idea, some fun moments, but a middle act that needs more of almost everything.

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originally posted: 05/07/08 23:51:49
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Directed by
  Alex Orr

Written by
  Alex Orr
  Adam Pinney
  Hugh Braselton

  Mike Brune
  Anna Chlumsky
  Katie Rowlett
  Matt Hutchinson
  Marla Malcolm

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