Blood Vessel 2019 Movie Scene A group of stragglers climbing aboard an abandoned Nazi ship

Blood Vessel [2019]

Give me a story set during WWII, a bit of mystery, a bit of Nazis doing freaky shit and I’m a happy camper. Blood Vessel is an indie horror movie following a group of stragglers who comes across a weirdly abandoned Nazi ship in the middle of the ocean. Forced to climb aboard, they will soon discover that they’re actually not alone on this strange vessel. The story does take a bit of time to get going but once it does, it maintains a solid pace ’till the end. This is why I urge you to give it a chance. Especially since this isn’t some blockbuster starring all the Hollywood big shots. Independent cinema needs all the help it can get.

Since this is an indie production, I have to tell you right away that Blood Vessel looks good. Almost the entire movie was shot on the very real WWII ship HMAS Castlemaine. This gives it a lot of authenticity and helps with the atmosphere. The practical effects were just as good with decaying and dead bodies looking believable and quite nasty. The same goes for the creatures that will be hunting our poor survivors. Their unique design reminds me of Stephen King’s The Night Flier. It will take a while before we see them in action but trust me, they will be worth the wait. However, I should use the term action carefully as they won’t be using a “hands-on” approach here.

The set design and props were even better. We can see intricately carved, well, objects. I dare not go into details because I don’t want to spoil anything for you. Although I went into this movie quite naively not putting two and two together. So, the big twist came to me as a surprise. Speaking of the plot, it’s quite similar to The Last Voyage of the Demeter. Of course, that’s a much bigger and action-oriented movie. Blood Vessel is more of an atmospheric horror, counting on the mystery, claustrophobia, and general eeriness to engage the viewer. I have to admit it was a quite predictable experience sorely in need of some unexpected twists. 

The script is decent, some of the lines are great and others pretty subpar. I just wish these battle-hardened veterans would behave more rationally onboard a Nazi ship. They just stroll around at first without even making an attempt to grab a weapon or something. The character development was just acceptable and I have to say I was expecting more. I think they should’ve focused more on that set design, letting scenes ominously linger. With that out of the way, I must commend our relatively unknown cast. It’s led by Alyssa Sutherland (Vikings, Evil Dead Rise) and Alex Cooke, who were quite good along with Christopher Kirby. 

Too bad his character got killed off pretty soon. I was hoping we’re going to get a bit of a MacReady-Childs dynamic here. For the fans of the genre, Blood Vessel is a refreshing choice that will satisfy their horror needs. The story is authentic and you can see a lot of effort went into the movie. Speaking of the story, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Death Ship, another indie horror movie now almost 40 years old. It’s much more trashier than this one but it has that raw B-movie charm.

Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Blood Vessel, I highly recommend you check out Trench 11. It feels like an earthbound blood brother to this seaworthy movie. And then you can move on to the classics like Dead SnowOutpost, and Overlord

Director: Justin Dix

Writers: Justin Dix, Jordan Prosser

Cast: Nathan Phillips, Alyssa Sutherland, Robert Taylor, Christopher Kirby, Alex Cooke, John Lloyd Fillingham

Fun Facts: If you live in Australia, you can actually visit HMAS Castlemaine. It’s restored and completely open to the public, just book a tour through its website.


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