Everyone loves a well-known actor trying out something wildly different, flexing their genre muscles with a meaty villain role. Octavia Spencer in Ma, James McAvoy in Split, Blumhouse alone have backed a hefty amount in the past few years, so it’s no surprise that they’re the ones behind the similarly inclined Bloodline, with 00s favourite Seann William Scott front and centre. But while others have found something of a resurgence in their unexpected shift to the dark side, the Stiffmeister himself sadly isn’t quite as lucky.
Part character-study, part quietly stylish slasher, Bloodline unfortunately isn’t anything particularly new or exciting. Scott’s Evan has a decent enough duality to him – high school guidance counsellor and perpetually tired new parent by day, avenging sociopathic serial killer by night – and there’s definitely some pull towards him as a character. The work-life/home-life/murderer-life balance has an innate tension to it for sure, and director Henry Jacobson brings a slick neon vibe to the visuals that adds a bit of extra flair.
But there’s simply no escaping the fact that this is a set-up we’ve definitely seen before, several times over, and in much better fashion too. Bloodline is very often, eerily similar to the much loved TV vehicle Dexter (sometimes even right down to the costume choices), not to mention a huge amount of other, similarly suburban slashers, more focussed around the psychology and inner-morality of their killers. This, as it turns out, is just another one in an already fairly faceless pile.
The meandering day-by-day threads of the film’s plot really do it no justice either, with not much to cling onto in terms of narrative twists, instead shifting to more of a character drama and footing its leading star with the heftiest chunk of the bill.
But while he’s proven himself to be a talented performer even outside the realms of the 90s/00s teen movie (Goon, Role Models, his surprisingly somber cameo in genius cult sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Scott’s just frustratingly two-dimensional here, and unable to keep the whole thing afloat by himself. There’s no spark of energy or even any real sense of danger – the killings echo house chores with a similar, dreary-eyed, by-the-numbers flow, which might well be the point, but it’s far from interesting to watch.
As a drama, the character conflict falls sadly flat, and as a horror movie there’s really very little to get your teeth into. The result is a film that feels simultaneously both overly familiar, and wildly forgettable. Seeing Scott dip his toes in a very different world to what he’s used to, might make Bloodline worth a go for those particularly die-hard American Pie fans. But for genre nuts and anyone who’s ever seen Dexter, it’s not recommended.
Bloodline was screened as part of Arrow Video FrightFest 2019.