Matthew Pope (director)
28 February 2020 (released)
27 February 2020
Blood on Her Name’s eerie opening has Leigh Tiller (Bethany Anne Lind) in a garage with a body and a pool of blood. Dragging the man’s body out in the pouring rain to dump it in a nearby lake. She’s relatively calm as she rows out and the mobile goes off, it’s his son.
Her response is to reign back from dumping the body and to take it to his house and leave it there for his family to find. Out of sight, out of mind. Only it isn’t that simple as the story now slowly starts to unravel with past and present actions and mistakes compounding into a complicated scenario of lies and manipulation.
The film is pleasingly character driven as they are introduced into the film so the layers build and the scales fall away from the viewers eyes. Leigh’s son Ryan (Jared Ivers) out on probation, wary of going back into prison but seemingly unreformed as he goes to work in the family garage. Leigh’s father Richard (Will Patton) with whom she is barely talking, sharing as they do memories of past actions, and working in the garage is Ray (Jimmy Gonzales) her confidant, of sorts and probably the most sympathetic member of the cast.
But there’s the conundrum of this tightly controlled thriller as we get further in and truths come out so our perspectives change of the characters and their motives. This doesn’t just apply to Leigh as her issues are revealed. It’s equally complex regarding the death of Dan and the reaction of his son Travis (Jack Andrews) and girlfriend Dani (Elisabeth Röhm) what sort of a reaction can one expect and once everything is revealed, is it fair to ask for sympathy?
It’s an astonishingly assured debut for director Matthew Pope who with co-writer Don M. Thompson has crafted a taught thriller that slowburns to the very limits, timing the reveals perfectly, revolving the characters motives and keeping the viewer on the edge to the very end. They make very effective use of the shabby small-town US location, it’s sense of isolation feed the very real dread hanging over the cast that if anything should happen, that’s it, there’s no one else going to know about it.
They have also drawn out sensitive performances from all the actors in particular Lind who deftly controls her character’s complicated arc as her past begins to play and influence her present. Fundamentally, in a very perverse way, everyone involved is trying to do the right thing but with so many perceptions of what ‘right’ is, and with the morals and ethics so jumbled, only base instinct appears to be the proper solution.
Blood on Her Name is available in the UK on VOD from 28 February.