The debate over violence in entertainment goes back as far as entertainment itself. I’m sure there were complaints that the tales told around Neanderthal’s campfires got too gruesome at times. And it’s only gotten worse as technology has let violence look more realistic. Now in Fake Blood, (screening as part of this year’s Blood in the Snow festival), director Rob grant (Yesterday, Harpoon) takes a personal and at times chilling look at a filmmaker’s responsibility for what they depict on screen. That he does it with a possibly fake documentary makes it all the better.
Riffing off of their previous film Mon Ami’s scene involving the buying of tools to dismember corpse and the scenes of its dismemberment Grant and frequent collaborator, (and this film’s co-writer) Mike Kovac receive a particularly unsettling video from a fan. The video tells them what tools one should really use for the job in a most convincing manner.
This sets the duo off on a quest to explore the difference between real and movie violence. While things start out amusing they soon are put in contact with John (Len Harvey Mon Ami), an adviser on a gangster film. He knows way too much about dead bodies and how they got that way. Now they may be in way over their heads and about to learn more than they wanted to know about real violence.
I said it’s a possibly a mockumentary. Although it’s officially claimed as nonfiction Kovac has said in an interview “Is the film real? Are we playing with the audience? How does violence make you feel? How real do you want it to be on screen?” There’s also quite a bit I can’t imagine people would allow to be filmed. And Grant himself comes off as a major asshole, not how most people would portray themselves in their own documentary.
However, real or faked Fake Blood is a genuinely engrossing film. The first half raises some interesting points pro and con concerning cinematic violence and it’s real-world effects such as copycat killers. It does this without becoming overly talky or pedantic, keeping things entertaining. After they come into contact with John however the film veers into true crime territory. That’s when it becomes genuinely scary. It had me wondering if it was going to end as a very convincing found footage type film. If this is indeed all real then I give Grant and Kovac a lot of credit for getting it all on film and putting it out there.
Fake Blood is on the festival circuit now and hopefully will find distribution in the near future. After seeing it I definitely need to check out Mon Ami and even Yesterday.