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Review: Fake Blood

February 9, 2018

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

Rob Grant and Mike Kovac are a pair of friends and independent filmmakers from Vancouver, and at the beginning of their documentary project Fake Blood, Rob tells us in voiceover that they are no longer on speaking terms.

The film then goes back to tell us what happened to sever their friendship.  After releasing their film Mon Ami in 2012, a darkly comedic thriller about two friends who accidentally kill their boss’s daughter after kidnapping her and find gruesome ways to dispose of the body, they received a disturbing fan video from a man musing about what tools he would use to dismember a corpse.

This leaves them questioning if the gore they are putting onscreen is potentially inspiring real life violence, and they start asking themselves if they have an obligation to present violent acts in a more realistic and less appealing way.  The genesis of Fake Blood sees the two filmmakers exploring violence in real life versus how it is depicted in popular culture.  They visit a shooting range so that they can try their hand at firing real guns, and go to a dojo to see what it’s like to get punched.  But things take a dark turn when they reach out to a real life criminal in order to get his take on movie violence, pushing the film in a shocking direction.

Watching Fake Blood, which is presented in the form of a documentary and keeps twisting in on itself in increasingly meta ways, it’s impossible to tell where the line between reality and fiction ends, or if there even is a line at all.  The film leaves us wondering how much of this is real, or if some of the details have been exaggerated to make for a better story, and it’s a conceit that the film handles exceptionally well.  If this is a mockumentary, then it’s a damn fine one at that, and if this is all real then it becomes all the more terrifying.  Like Catfish and Kung Fu Elliot before it, the film does remarkable things with the nonfiction format.

Even if the facts here have been embellished, and it’s left up to the viewer to decide, Fake Blood still functions as a wholly fascinating and thought provoking exploration of how violence is depicted in the media.  Does movie violence cause real life violence?  Well, it certainly desensitizes us to it, or at the very least causes us to have unrealistic ideas about the impact of it, especially when shootouts are shown with no actual blood as they often are in Hollywood blockbusters.  As we’re told in the film, movie violence isn’t likely to cause real life violence in people who otherwise aren’t prone to it, but it certainly has the power to change the way people who are committing violent acts might behave.

This is an incredible exercise in horror filmmaking, delivering something that’s inventive, unpredictable, and even truly terrifying.  For a tight, nerve-wracking 81 minutes, Fake Blood keeps us in utter suspense, never sure of what is going to happen next.  It’s a positively gripping film, and one that should be seen knowing as little about the outcome as possible.

Fake Blood is now playing in limited release at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto, and will be released digitally on February 13th.

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