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Blood for the Muse   C+

Dark Muse Films

Year Released: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Terry M. West
Writer: Terry M. West
Cast: Josh Robinson, Tina Krause, Tammy Parks, Terry M. West, Pamela Sutch, Esmerelda DeLarocca.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

It's tricky to make a movie where the main character is a soulless killer wandering around a loathsome world in a perpetual daze. Such a character is essentially dead to the world, so it's tough for them to be brought to life. Many complained that Christian Bale was too bland in American Psycho as a yuppie scumbag who enjoys hacking up co-workers and hookers, but that, my friends, was precisely the point. His character had no soul. I could heap the same kind of criticisms upon Josh Robinson's one-note performance as a serial killer in Blood for the Muse, but that would suggest that I missed the point entirely.

In the film, Josh Robinson plays a video store clerk who moonlights as a serial killer preying on call girls (lots of nudity here, guys). You see, Josh (the character is named Josh, too) is trying to summon the ancient muse of tragedy, Melpomene, or the Dark Muse. He's obsessed. Sickened by the hypocrisy of modern religion, he sets out on a quest to summon the Dark Muse at any cost. It's said that only tragedy will bring her to him and, well, the pitiful hookers he's been hacking up haven't been cutting it. He needs to sacrifice someone who has a lot going for them, someone whose death, he says, would make God shed a tear. That's when Josh meets a nice, pretty girl named Sara (Tina Krause) and hits it off with her almost immediately. Wanna guess where this is headed?

I have to admit, I dig the premise and the setup. There was a lot of potential, but I can't help but feel as if the film missed some great opportunities. For instance, why set up a relationship between Sara and Josh if it's not going to be given time to fully blossom? Tina Krause as Sara, looking quite fetching with a blond wig, turns in a solid and endearing performance, but she's underused. Well, actually, Krause also tackles two other roles (including the Dark Muse), but it's Sara and her relationship with Josh that should have been explored further. As it is, it feels like writer-director Terry M. West was in a rush to get them to a certain point in their relationship. Well, he gets them there, but so quickly that it doesn't seem believable. When Josh finally has to make what should be a life-shattering decision about their relationship, the movie hasn't earned it yet. It doesn't feel important or contain an ounce of the emotional impact it could have had.

Nevertheless, the film does create a very uneasy and at times unsettlingly surreal atmosphere. It's in black and white, just like the comic books of the same name upon which the film is based (also created by West), but the element that contributes most to the thick, dreary atmosphere is the music. The music is extremely atmospheric and creepy; it adds depth to otherwise run-of-the-mill murder scenes and helps in creating the bleak and melancholy mood in which the film is drenched.

Blood for the Muse is an intriguing effort, but it never reaches the heights it aspires to. Many of the actors in bit roles are pretty bad and render moments of an otherwise somber horror film laughable. The murder scenes are pretty graphic, but they're lacking punch (not to mention that the use of a strobe-like effect ruins at least one of them). As I mentioned earlier, the relationship between Josh and Sara would be much more affecting had it developed more leisurely and been explored in more depth. The film has a wonderfully mood-enhancing soundtrack and it seems to have interesting things to say about faith and obsession, but one only wishes that it had a stronger plot and characters to back it up. Finally, I can't help but feel that something was missing from Josh Robinson's one-note performance. But then again, maybe I'm missing the point.

(This film is available on the Satan's School for Lust DVD.)

Review published 03.21.2002.

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