Chris De Pretis’ indie horror scifi film has its heart in the right place, but at the end of the day, I can’t say he re-invents the wheel here. I was never quite sure if “Death Blood 4” was intended as a meta-horror movie or not, as it puts up this gimmick of it being a sequel to three movies that never quite existed. It goes about this “Grindhouse” novelty until the introduction of the actual narrative where it’s played fairly straight faced and with a stern tone bereft of any notable satirical content.
De Pretis sets up a clever exposition device, staging this film as the fourth film in a fictitious franchise. This allows him to give us a run down of the basic concept (through mock movie trailers) and then jump in to the narrative, rather than kill the momentum. In the aforementioned three films, Babysitter Sara Shane must stop a nano-robotic blood virus known as the “Death Blood” from infecting ordinary citizens and transforming them into zombie-like killers. However, for the fourth film, Sara is in outer space, as implied by “Death Blood 3: Death Blood in Space.” In this fourth installment of the imaginary film series, the Death Blood has returned yet again.
After taking possession of the body of a pizza parlor owner, the Death Blood falls under the control of evil local police chief, Beefe. Now Sara’s daughter Cindi Shane must stop Beefe and Death Blood from… uh… doing something heinous (I was never sure what they were planning). Along with the help of her comic book clerk roommate (who happens to be an engineering genius), a pizza guy, an alien, and even a talking television, she’s the only hope. “Death Blood 4” has glimmers here and there of wit and clever devices while also embracing its bizarre nature. There’s never really a clear explanation as to why there’s a talking TV or a killer yeti featured so prominently in the movie, but I like De Pretis implementing his resources.
The movie is noticeably lo-fi and low budget, but De Pretis finds interesting ways to work around the hurdles with some good prop work, and solid performances. That said, “Death Blood 4” feels a bit flabby and could have stood to lose about ten minutes altogether. I was also never quite sure what the motivations behind Beefe and Death Blood were, exactly. World domination? World destruction? Did Beefe want an army of zombies? In either case, “Death Blood 4” is cleverly crafted, and I liked the gimmicky prologue, I just wish the movie were more coherent, engaging, and stuck to the satire angle through the very end.