The following review originally posted on the now-defunct website MorbidMovies.com, sometime in 2017. Unlike many of my (now) older reviews, I don’t absolutely hate this one, and have decided to repost it here. A few very minor edits have been made to the original post.
Horror fans have been watching the exploits of werewolves on the silver screen for almost 100 years (actually, over). We’ve experienced them in their earliest screen appearances in films such as Universal’s Werewolf of London and The Wolf Man, and have stayed fascinated by them all the way up to current-day lycanthrope-based cinematic excursions such as Howl, Late Phases, and Wolfcop. But what about those other human/animal hybrids that are born from the light of a full moon? Surely, they deserve their moment in the celluloid spotlight, right?
That brings us to Bad Blood, the new “were-frog” movie from writer/director Tim Reis, producer of 2013’s The Demon’s Rook and co-producer of 2015’s The Mind’s Eye. Yes, I did say “were-frog”! Half man, half amphibious monstrosity. Well, in this case, a half-woman/half-amphibious creature, capably designed by effects artist (and co-producer) James Sizemore.
However, the biggest question regarding Bad Blood isn’t whether or not the effects hold up or if the story makes any sense, but whether or not the film is ultimately ruined by too much being revealed in its trailer. The answer? No. All of it is ruined.
College student Victoria (Mary Malloy) has returned home to stay with her mother after taking a break from pursuing her degree. Unfortunately, the respite may not be as relaxing as she had hoped. Mom has since remarried to Wade (Brian Troxell), an angry, judgmental guy who seems just a little too stereotypically like your stereotypical jerk of a step-dad. You’ve seen this guy 8,000 times before in other films.
Also added to Victoria’s “new” family is Wade’s young son, Wade Jr. The name alone tells you that this kid will be just as unlikable as his “old man”, if not more so. To help convey this sentiment, Wade Jr. is portrayed as a pudgy, candy-faced, spoiled, little backstabbing shit. You’ve seen this kid before too, although maybe not quite as many times as his Dad.
As you might expect, Wade doesn’t buy Victoria’s claim of “needing a break”, and instead believes that she is just too concerned with partying to focus on school. His suspicions prove to be correct when Victoria steals his car to go out with a friend. Adding to her growing list of poor judgement calls, she also stops to buy gas with Wade’s credit card, also presumably taken from him without permission. That said, her offenses won’t really matter much as there are apparently no police anywhere in this town.
Even early on, most of the characters and dialogue feel far too broad and cookie-cutter to be taken very serious. However, Victoria’s poor friend doesn’t get the chance to establish much of a personality before being ripped to shreds by a creature lurking on the gas station’s roof. The creature then turns its attention to Victoria, ripping open her face and throat before being brought down with a chemical-filled syringe fired dart-like into its own throat. Victoria is dragged away as she loses consciousness.
The story picks back up one month later, Victoria still missing. A detective (Troy Halverson), hired by her parents, links her disappearance, as well as a string of recent murders, to the gas station. He also learns that the shady-looking station attendant (Vikas Adam) is actually a disgraced scientist, as well as the “coincidence” that all of these murders and disappearances seem to occur on the night of a full moon. Despite all of these connections, he attributes everything to a “drug cult” and not lycanthropy. Frogcanthropy? However, his failure to spot the obvious is due less to ineptitude than it is to his blossoming psychopathic tendencies.
Halverson, in my opinion, provides the stand-out performance in the film, displaying the capability of being both comedic and threatening in the same scene. His role is also the most developed, which is an odd choice when you consider that he should really be one of the least essential characters in a film that has “family drama” as its biggest sub-plot.
Victoria is soon revealed to be alive, hiding out in the nearby woods. She is fully aware of the attack she suffered… as well as the side-effects of the ordeal. In her absence, she has been secretly meeting with the “gas station scientist” in order to obtain a serum that helps prevent the transformation process. Her departure is witnessed by the detective, who “retrieves” her at gunpoint and returns her home.
Now convinced that she is nothing more than a junkie, Wade searches Victoria’s belongings and steals her last vial of serum. This leads to the obligatory confrontation with Wade, in which he briefly displays a totally expected abusive side. He barricades Victoria in her bedroom to sweat out “whatever she is on”.
This, of course, leads to the film’s selling point, as well as its biggest attribute: a full-on monster rampage filled with geysers of blood and more than a few randomly strewn internal organs. The transformation sequence is nice and gooey, which compliments the finished creature design. The fountains of blood and (acceptably hokey-looking) body parts help make up for the deficiencies in character development and dialog, as well as for plot holes that are big enough to lead Rubber Duck and the rest of the convoy through.
Regrettably, if you’ve watched the trailer for Bad Blood (which is included at the end of this review), you no longer have any reason to watch the full film. Everything is in the trailer. EVERYTHING. Every single “moment” is revealed for you, thus leaving Bad Blood with nothing in the line of surprises or suspense. The film is then forced to plod along to its conclusion, which doesn’t match the fun or shock of the now-spoiled moments that preceded it.
Don’t come out of this review thinking that Bad Blood is an awful film. It’s not. It’s not a great film by any means, but it undeniably provides a solid dose of bloody monster madness with a healthy touch of camp. It’s fun, which seems to be the filmmaker’s ultimate goal. Unfortunately, there’s just no looking past the fact that most of that “madness” can be (and is) contained within a 2-minute trailer.
Bad Blood is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video (with membership), as well free-to-watch on Tubi.
Score one for originality with the were-frog concept. It’s also a nice touch that the abusive step-dad is done in by his own self-righteousness and “tough love” for what he thinks is an addiction problem. As for the trailer, it’s part of the Goldilocks problem with marketing a film: some reveal too much, some not enough (or are so confusing you have no idea what the movie is about), and a few are just right – highlighting just enough to get you wanting more. A trailer that hits all of the movie’s highlights is lazy hackwork. Why distribute the movie at all if you’re going to do that?