Nothing But the Blood (2020)

Intentional or not, when you go in to “Nothing But the Blood” you’re bound to have flashbacks of “Red State,” as director Daniel Tucker seems to be sewing his narrative from the same cloth. Ideas about religious fanaticism, the deadly cost of religious institutions, and the hypocrisy of religious leaders are all here. Les Best even seems to spend most of his time on screen channeling Michael Parks. Daniel Tucker tries hard to establish him as a source of evil, even beginning the movie with a fourth wall breaking prologue as Best’s character reads a long sermon and angrily preaches to us.

Why this should set up the story I was never entirely clear but—it’s black and white, so it’s eerie…?

Rachel Hudson plays Jessica Cutler is a cynical small-town journalist sent to cover the grand opening of a controversial new church called the Emeth church. As the cult like ministry digs its roots into the town and its residents, Jessica’s life begins to take an unexpected, violent turn that will shake her foundations to their very core when she falls for a member of the church, and is forced to face her abusive ex-boyfriend. While Daniel Tucker’s indie about religious fanaticism and a cult like church roll out the gates like a horror movie, it’s pretty much a melodrama with tinges of a revenge thriller.

So much of the narrative is spent focusing on heroine Jessica Cutler who spends so much time garnering an uneasy relationship with the established foes. She’s sent to investigate the fanatical Emeth church intent on bringing them down. Then she falls for the church representative Tom, even after he aggressively confronts her and shows zero remorse for her claims about the church burning down a gay couple’s home. After finding him in the bathroom about to receive oral sex from a female parishioner, she invites him on a date and they fall in love. I don’t get it either. Nine times out of ten, events unfolded to move the film along, even when they made absolutely zero sense. Why in world would you leave your seven year old daughter with people suspected of murder and terrorism?

Nothing anyone does is makes a lick of sense, and we’re never sure what the message is when all is said and done. So who’s the villain here? Is it Father? Is it religious fanaticism? Is it organized religion? Is it the Emeth church? Is it the people within the Emeth church? “Nothing But the Blood,” even at ninety minutes, feels way too long. The script spends so much time on melodrama and arguments about faith, and spousal abuse that it never actually confronts or explores any substantial themes about religion, belief, and the cost of revenge. It’s never has a single clue what it’s trying to be, and just feels so exploitative and lazy.

Available on VOD, DVD, and Blu-Ray on August 4th.