Blood is thicker than water in the new Italian Horror offering Blood Bags. High Octane Pictures deliver the film to DVD and Digital on Tuesday, December 3, 2019.
Hoping to perfect her craft by studying overseas, passionate photographer Tracy (Makenna Guyler: King of Crime 2018, The Barge People 2018) has three months left in Italy before she heads back home to Ohio. Hoping to make the most of her time, she enlists her Russian roommate Petra (Marta Tananyan: Bodycount series, The Vegetarian 2019) to head out of the city to photograph some old buildings. Referring to herself as an architectural archaeologist, Tracy is enticed by an old abandoned villa and enters the property to document its curious insides.
Soon, however, it becomes clear that the two women are not the only ones breathing the dusty air inside the supposedly abandoned mansion. There’s a thief, Alex (Emanuele Turetta in his acting debut), who has been trapped inside for the entire night, and he claims to be trying to escape a mysterious creature (Mario Cellini: La donna della toilette short 2017, Cras short 2018) that lurks within. With nowhere to run and all the exits sealed, the threesome will find themselves hunted by something that is very hungry for their blood.
Clocking in at 83 minutes, Blood Bags is a feature-length directorial debut for Emiliano Ranzani (Langliena video short 2009, Miriam short 2016) who co-wrote the screenplay along with Davide Mela (I’m Here short 2015, Incipit short 2017), and with additional assistance from Scarlett Amaris (The Theatre Bizarre 2011, Replace 2017). The film also features the acting talents of Alberto Sette (Medici series, Come l’ombra nel buio 2019), Salvatore Palombi (Il muro di gomma 1991, Non si può morire ballando 2019), Denitza Diakovska (Thou Shalt Not Kill series, Compulsion 2016), Franco Olivero (The Bankers of God: The Calvi Affair 2002, La notte eterna del coniglio 2007), Riccardo Leto (Dark Resurrection 2007, Brokers – Eroi per gioco 2008), and more.
Billed as a “modern take on classic Italian Horror cinema,” Blood Bags pairs Gunther Disease (believed to be the congenital illness behind the origin of the vampire mythos) with a student photographer, a handsome thief, and one very diligent police officer to craft a tale of bloody thrills. Presented in English, though with a minor dash of Italian (with English subtitles), the Horror flick maintains a classic feel throughout—utilizing practical effects along with ambiance, and never going for obvious jump-scares or CGI carotid spurts.
Much of the film’s strength comes from this and its cast, who do an excellent job with the material. In fact, it’s almost impossible to believe that this is Turetta’s acting debut; as Alex, he gives a stellar performance. Equally talented is Guyler, believable as a student so inspired by her photographic pursuits that she’s willing to overlook her personal safety. (Some photographers really do that, folks!) Of course, without Cellini there would not be a truly haunting creature, and he delivers shivers with his awkward and blood-thirsty movements. Not to be forgotten, Tananyan’s Petra is largely cannon fodder, though she dishes out some sass in her first scenes.
Honestly, while there’s nothing wrong with Blood Bags, it’s still a film that feels rather generic for its genre. The story is good but it’s been done before, though there is some humor peppered into the screenplay—along with a few well-deserved digs at Americans—to keep the viewer engaged and amused. And while the actors commit to their roles and deliver quality performances, this is still very much a film centered around a diseased man/humanoid creature lurking inside a seemingly abandoned building and thirsty for blood. Well-done for what it is, Cryptic Rock give Blood Bags 3.5 of 5 stars.