Jess, a separated wife and nurse who moves with her daughter and young son Owen back into her old farmhouse. Shortly after settling in, Owen is bitten by the dog, resulting in a mysterious infection from the bite.

Chuck says:

There’s a little seen, gem of a horror film called “My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To” from 2020 that, on the surface appears to be an urban vampire movie.  However, writer/director Jonathan Cuartas has greater concerns than simply delivering another low-budget shocker.  The bloodsucker in question is a homebound, teenage boy whose older brother and sister feed by bringing home and killing vagrants and hitchhikers. The film ultimately proves to be a poignant metaphor and examination of the trial caregivers must endure on a daily basis when dealing with a loved one who needs perpetual attention. I highly recommend it.

Brad Anderson’s “Blood” delves into similar territory but with mixed results.  Michelle Monaghan gives a fine performance as Jess, a single mother grappling with addiction issues as well as a divorce that’s left her alienated from her teenage daughter, Tyler (Skylar Morgan Jones) and young son, Owen (Finlay Wotjak Hissong). She moves into an old house in the country and before you know it, their beloved dog becomes infected with some strange virus. Owen is soon bitten by the mad beast and while he seemingly makes a full recovery, he and his mother come to share a secret – his metabolism has been altered so that he now needs a steady supply of blood to survive.

The screenplay by Will Honley is quite clever at times.  Making Jess a nurse so that she initially has access to what her son craves makes sense as does her the background of addiction. When she resorts to bleeding herself in order to feed Owen, her appearance changes to the point that her ex (Skeet Ulrich) suspects she is using again, all of which gives the impression she is a negligent mother.

As smart as all of this is, Honley’s insistence that all this trouble is due to an evil spirit living in a gnarled tree by a dried-out lake doesn’t hold water.  This premise isn’t delved into enough to make it credible, and the movie could have survived without it.  Having the origin of whatever it is that has changed Owen remain unknown would have been more effective, adding an eerie sense of mystery. To be sure, Anderson can deliver effective shocks and the cast’s commitment to the material certainly helps. Unfortunately, neither he nor Honley have a clever enough third act up their sleeve to leave fans of intelligent horror fully sated.

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