A serial killer with severe mother and father issues stabs to death beautiful young women in urban Arizona. Two detectives are hot on his trail, but when they begin to find his victims with nonidentical wound patterns, including bite marks on their necks, the detectives are thrown into a loop of ancient supernatural proportions. Another pair of seekers, vampires whom have lived for centuries, track down the same serial killer for one very specific reason – his blood. The blood is a certain and rare hemoglobin type needed to resuscitate their dying breed, but with the killer’s instability rendering him volatile and dangerous, turning him into one of the powerful undead becomes risky business for humans and vampires alike.
With the backdrop of the city of Tucson, Arizona comes an off plumb detective-crime thriller smack dab in the middle of a vampiric rebirthing with Brendan Guy Murphy’s unconventional modern vampire tale, “Blood Widow.” Directed by Murphy and co-written by Dominic Ross (who had a main role in the Ron Jeremy starring’s “Blood Moon Rising,” “Blood Widow,” which is also known as “Viuda de Sangre,” is Murphy’s first venture into full length feature films. The veteran actor has starred in such films such as “The Minstrel Killer” and the unbeknownst to all, 2012 follow up to Dennis Hopper’s “Easy Rider,” “Easy Rider 2: The Ride Home,” but to his directorial credits, only a couple of short films are listed, testing Murphy’s hand at the proverbial helm of a multi-branched story with hard-nosed detectives, deranged killers, and a desperate vampire faction. “Blood Widow” is a production of Brendan Guy Murphy’s Tucson based production company, MurphySpeaking Films.
Murphy steps into the villainous shoes of Keller, the disturbed serial killer with mommy and daddy issues who remains elusive from two of Arizona’s finest detectives, played by James Craven, who has been virtually cinematically silent since the early 2000’s, and Dallas Thomas. Keller troubling backstory is briefly visual in the aftermath of his rage resulting in his terribly abusive and estranged parents. Murphy and Ross poorly incorporate the effects of Keller’s horrendous maltreatment into his transformed character; a battering character flaw untapped for persona turmoil that ultimately subsides to Keller’s newfound powers that give him nearly unstoppable bloodthirst and debauchery. Craven’s detective Valentine and the original vampire duo, Lilith (debut performance by Melissa Aguirre Fernandez) and Slight (Hector Ayala), also suffered from feebly storylines that involves a cocktail of Craven’s alcoholism and on-the-job trauma and Lilith and Slight’s early 20th century bond during the violent prejudicial times of vampire inquisitions in New Mexico. Each backstory is only merely, and half-heartedly, touched upon to give just a morsel of the full character that can never entirely arc to either redemption and falter. Aside from that, performances all around are solid enough to be enthusiastic charged. James Craven is chin deep into being a defiant detective with an obsession for capturing a killer who has become an elusive and terrifying figment of subconscious stress and haunting visions. Audiences can, again only briefly, be pulled into detective Valentine’s grim existence, provided by Craven’s unsullied efforts. Cisiany Oliver (“Jessicka Rabid”) and Abdul Salaam El Razzac (“Terminator 2: Judgement Day”) co-star.
I keep returning to the title, over and over again, puzzled in trying to explain or articulate why the film is titled as “Blood Widow.” Nothing apparent and explicit comes to the presentation forefront or to the bio-gears of my mind that would make the first instance of vampire activity with Lilith, I assume, a widow. Lilith’s brief backstory confides no pain of loss or grief and the little evidence that supports the possible catalyst front might have inkling hints at her sexual orientation, a prejudice witch hunt which would result in bearing bereavement, even if it’s 80+ years strong. Lilith has an arbitrary flashback that exhibits the brutal staking of another woman in her group of suspected vampires in broad daylight, one of the select unconventional vampire motifs revamped for “Blood Widow,” and though Lilith and the rest in her group were denying every aspect of the claim, their elongated fangs were in clear view and didn’t necessarily assist in their defense. The slain woman could have been a possible lover perhaps, paralleling a symbolic labeled perversion of lesbianism, but the fact that all suspects were women is the only clue toward that theory. Again, this is all objective and circumstantial on my part, but I can’t pinpoint another reason for such a title. Lack of connection comes to be a reoccurring theme in “Blood Widow” that fails to materialize more contextual value toward the scenes, titles, and characters for beneficial storytelling and less inscrutable acts.
Ultimate power is laced in the blood, but what if that power is used for evil? That’s what the Indican Pictures’s distributed “Blood Widow” sinks it’s teeth into with a digital platform release and the promise of a DVD home video release soon again. Unfortunately, I was provided with a DVD-R screener, so the video and audio technical aspects will not be critiqued for this review, but the dialogue audio mix is in English and Spanish with English subtitles. Some bonus features were included, such as outtakes and the trailer. “Blood Widow” has a premise of a promising, independent contemporary vampire hook, but without enriching mythos and some sort of connective coherency, “Blood Widow” wobbles through the approach to an unsatisfactory finale.