Steven Kastrissios takes us deep into modern Albania for his sophomore outing in the director’s chair.
Paving his way into the horror scene, Kastrissios turned heads with his debut feature, The Horseman, partly for hits ‘extreme violence’ but also for his ability to not shy away from the harsh society that is infused throughout the films narrative.
With Bloodlands, the subject of vengeance is once again at the forefront of Kastrissios storytelling, a subject that seems close to his heart.
In this instance, we are faced with a family struggling to make ends meet and with conflicting interests pulling at their innermost desires. It is only when confronted with a blood feud set by a witch and her mysterious clan that the family must unite and stand together against a common enemy in a brutal fight for survival.
Recently Bloodlands took out 3 awards at A Night of Horror Film Festival for Best Foreign Language Film; Best Australian Film; and Best Australian Director, and one can see why as it this tale of mythology and highly tense drama is a refreshing sight against the anarchy and gore that has been presented of late on our screens.
Cinematographer, Leander Ljarja beautifully captures the Albanian landscape, and Kastrissios slow burn direction allows the tension to build steadily to keep the viewer gripped to its gritty conclusion.
It just feels a shame that the characters feel so two-dimensional in places and this makes the strong concept and themes lost in what would have been thoroughly engaging piece had more care and attention centred on this area.
As such, there are no real shock moments, and the path becomes a predictable one as a result.
A slow-burn horror that is reminiscent of The Hills Have Eyes in tone, but is embedded with Albanian culture, which adds a new flavour to the horror scene. A rewarding watch despite some character flaws.
– Saul Muerte