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Review: Nothing But the Blood (2020)

Writer/director Daniel Tucker’s Nothing But the Blood opens with a black and white clip of Father (Les Best, Scare Package, The Elf) reading a bible verse about non-violence. The film however taps into the menace that can lie under the surface of any organized religious group. Something that we should keep in mind these days.

Jessica (Rachel Hudson) takes an assignment to interview the pastor of Emeth, a growing but controversial church moving into their small town. Michael (Nick Triola) is welcoming at first, but quickly becomes hostile when she brings up acts of violence and harassment connected to the church. Incidents that include stoning a divorced woman. At one point, Michael exclaims, “Those sinners got what they deserved”.

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That’s clearly at odds with the message from their founder. As is Father’s own message when he comes to the church and preaches hate for those who don’t believe. The parallels to what happened a couple of days ago when pastor and radio/TV host Rick Wiles urged Trump to have protesters shot and killed is scary. Because just as people will do great things in the name of religion, others will commit terrible atrocities, be it 9/11 or the Spanish Inquisition.

And that’s the fear that resonates through Nothing But the Blood. Religious violence thankfully isn’t that common in America. But the sentiment is there, and occasionally these calls to violence find their way to somebody willing to act. Here it’s triggered when one of the church’s staff, Thomas (Jordan O’Neal) leaves the fold for Jessica. The lengths they’re will to go to get back at them are chilling.

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A friend said he passed on Nothing But the Blood because it didn’t seem like horror to him. And while it is more of a thriller, the horror is there. If the clergy and followers of Emeth dressed like old-time Amish instead of modern-day Americans, there wouldn’t be any doubt of its horror content. But like fundamentalists of She Who Must Burn, they blend in, making them all the more dangerous.

Rooted in the real world, this is the kind of horror that is the most terrifying of all when done right. While Nothing But the Blood, gets quite bloody in the final act. But its most chilling moment is a quiet one that comes just before that. When one of the congregation justifies the murder of a child to the little girl’s mother. People like that do exist, I’ve met a couple, and they are terrifying in their fanaticism.

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It’s a timely and chilling look at the fanaticism and hypocrisy of fundamentalism. And a reminder that religious extremism isn’t just a jihadist suicide bomber, Nothing But the Blood will be released by Gravitas Ventures on VOD, Blu-ray, and DVD August 4th.

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