Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #48
Number of Views: Two
Release Date: October 3, 2011
Country of Origin: Sweden
Running Time: 80 minutes
Director: Sonny Laguna
Producers: David Liljeblad & Tommy Wiklund
Screenplay: Sonny Laguna, David Liljeblad, Tommy Wiklund
Score: Samir El Alaoui
Stunts: Fredrik Blom (Coordinator), Maria Nilsson
Production Company: Stockholm Syndicate Film
Stars: Elin Hugoson, Ralf Beck, Hanna Oldenburg, Andreas Rylander, Patrick Saxe, David Liljeblad
Suggested Audio Candy
Pink Floyd “Money”
Money can have such completely different meanings to different people. To anyone particularly well off, a few thousand bucks is literally a drop in the ocean and could represent a pair of designer shoes or a solitary meal at a swanky restaurant. However, that same sum of cash could change another person’s entire life and be the difference between sleeping rough on the streets and begging passers-by for food and actually getting a few months of warm meals inside them. It’s all ultimately a matter of perspective and we live in a world where that can vary wildly from one person to the next. The rich have a tendency to get richer, and the poor, poorer and never the twain shall meet. Indeed, my own financial situation has been fairly dire of late and, while keeping a roof over my head has never become an issue, a few thousand bucks could make the world of difference. I never had a great deal of respect for money before but recently it has started to command it. So when someone achieves so much on such limited funds, my hat is off in advance and dues ready to be paid.
Speaking of which, Scandinavian director Sonny Laguna has earned my eternal respect after watching his sophomore full-length feature Blood Runs Cold. Since forming independent production house Stockholm Syndicate Film with his friends in 2006, he has worked his fingers to the bone to try and make his dream a reality and, after hitting the ground running with his 2010 film Madness, is back behind the lens once more. However, what is truly notable here is that the film I am about to critique cost an astonishing five thousand US dollars to produce. Hardly enough to start a revolution right? In fact, it actually sounds like more than it is. With the present woeful rate of exchange, that tallies up to little over £3000 in my own currency which may feel like a fair bundle of dough to some but, when you are tasked with shooting an entire movie and getting in 35 shooting days’ supplies of Starbucks coffee to cope with the constant temperatures of fifteen to twenty below zero, becomes a miniscule globule in a vast ocean.
Let’s get this straight from the offset, Blood Runs Cold is a quite extraordinary film. I’ve witnessed movies doing a lot less correctly with twenty times the micro budget Laguna had at his disposal. Fuck, I’ve seen films made for millions nosedive like sky diving sacks of cellulite. I may get excitable at points during the course of this appraisal and there will likely be many praises lavished from hereon in. While that will not necessarily be reflected in the score it receives at the close, I urge you to read between the lines on this occasion. To give you an idea of how masterful an achievement in independent filmmaking this is, Laguna’s film features one of my favorite kills of the past twelve months and shows more promise on a measly $5k than I could ever have dreamed feasible. Indeed, he has done the hardest part now by persuading us that he has the cast iron ball sack. Now he just requires a more elevated platform to soar from. For the record, his next project Wither boasts a budget of £30k so he’s clearly moving in the right direction.
So how does he achieve this amazing feat on $5k? Well, Blood Runs Cold is set primarily in a single location so that’s money saved straight off the bat. Both its cast and crew is miniscule, and I would imagine that shooting this baby involved calling in a few favors and plenty of voluntary work. While there’s relatively little in the way of grue (hence the 15 certificate it collected on its day-trip across the pond to the BBFC), it costs nothing to supply tension and that is something it has in abundance. Granted the result is as rudimentary a slasher flick as you’re ever likely to view all year, as bells as whistles are luxuries Laguna simply cannot afford, but it has one rather indispensable thing in its possession and that, my dear friends, is heart.
I could write the plot of Blood Runs Cold on the back of my Johnson, it’s so simple. The story centers around a flourishing artist named Winona (Hanna Oldenburg) who ventures back to her old hometown and runs into an old flame on her return (played by young Michael Biehn look-alike Andreas Rylander). She invites him, along with two of his friends, back to the house she has rented and we all know the spiel from hereon in. That’s as much of a discerning plot as we are specified and, in fact, it’s all we call for as the meat and potatoes was always going to be the set-up and execution.
When the blood begins to run it runs decidedly cold. One would be forgiven for expecting any kills to occur off-screen and admittedly one of the cast disappears as though they have just realized they’re late clocking back in at their part-time short order chef position. However, like a thunderbolt it hits and we are subjected to a moment of shocking intensity. One of our hapless twenty-somethings has their top box removed with the assistance of a bloody ax and while not particularly graphic, it’s both sudden and alarming. I would be curious to learn what portion of the kitty went into that one scene but, whatever that amount may be, I would imagine it to be a hale and hearty wedge as it truly is a head-turner.
For the closing half hour or so, it follows the typical final girl blueprint to the letter, but does so with a new-found strength. Blood Runs Cold is no classic, make no bones about that. Indeed, at a time where slashers line up like vultures at a banquet, it could easily pass many horror enthusiasts by. However, if this were to occur then it would be a travesty. When a young director such as Laguna manages to get so much right on such precious little funds, I feel like bellowing from the rooftops. Anyone with the gonads to make a movie with such a gnat’s prick cash cache deserves to have their labor of love seen by as wide an audience as possible. Mention must also be made of Samir El Alaoui’s effectively minimalist score which perfectly accompanies the onscreen dealings and also the wonderful closing credits. All these small things combine to belie its skinflint status and the end result looks sophisticated and polished to within an inch of its life.
Blood Runs Cold really is an astonishing feat of filmmaking. Laguna stretches every single nickel as far as feasibly possible and the end result is as satisfying as a moleskin jockstrap. No, it is not the best slasher film of the past twelve months and to expect such would be way beyond preposterous. However, when you weigh things up pound for pound, it suddenly becomes an entirely different proposition. If he can achieve this on $5k then imagine what he could do with $1m. The mind truly boggles. Thus, I offer it my complete endorsement gladly and leave you with this parting shot: Ignore this little gem of a movie and you will be the one left out in the cold.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 3/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: I could jabber on all day about that delicious decapitation as it had me clapping like a seal but there is some other decent grue on offer also and more than you could ever hope for from a film made for effectively peanuts. Stingy body count aside, this is a mean-spirited affair and far more gruesome than its certification implies. There’s even a dash of bare skin which, when you consider the sub-zero shooting temperatures, shows commitment in itself.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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