Writer/director Tommy Stovall offers up more drama than horror in his new independent film Aaron’s Blood, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but what works against the offering is the lack of originality and its attempts at putting new wrinkles into vampire lore by simply having a character state that some long-held ideas about vampires are merely misconceptions. The movie does offer enough original moments to balance it out into a film worth checking out, though.
Aaron (James Martinez) is a mobile blood bank phlebotomist who is the widower father to middle school student Tate (Trevor Stovall, the director’s son). Having lost his mother less than a year ago and being the constant target of bullying, haemophiliac Tate is going through some difficult times. After being tripped by the school bully, Tate loses enough blood to require hospitalisation and a transfusion. After suddenly waking up from heavy sedation and telling Aaron that he feels well enough to go home, Tate finds himself with some of the oft-seen powers and problems of vampires, such as superhuman strength, the inability to keep down solid foods, and a thirst for human blood.
Aaron’s Blood deals with Aaron’s search for a way to reverse the vampirism in his son so that he can return to being a normal human being. Certain rules are established in the film to make this both easier and more challenging for the protagonist, and some fans of cinematic vampire lore may find this a bit of a stretch or at least convenient screenwriting. For example, the classic aversion to crosses is done away with here — as is a good deal of vampiric aversions to the Christian faith — and the transition period for Tate’s turning seems to allow for more walking-in-daylight scenes than might be expected from previous vampire movies.
Tommy Stovall has some decent ideas in Aaron’s Blood, but many elements feel unrealised or underexamined. For example, Aaron works at a job where it seems he might have easy, if illegal and immoral, access to human blood, which would help to stave off Tate’s need for finding human victims. The possibilities of ways of Tate feeding without killing are even addressed by another character, if only barely so. This angle, however, is not addressed other than Aaron asking for a favour from another healthcare professional in one short scene.
The acting in Aaron’s Blood ranges from rather good to knuckle-chewing melodramatic to sorely underplayed. Trevor Stovall shows limited range as Tate, dwelling mostly in disaffected teenager and brooding vampire modes, but this may be in part because of father Tommy Stovall’s scripting of the character. James Martinez does well with his portrayal of a man desperate to help his son at any cost. David Castellvi turns in a nice performance as Father Kane, though his character is often heavy on the exposition. Michael Chieffo gives one of the better supporting turns as a vampire hunter who aids Aaron in his quest to cure Tate.
As I mentioned before, Aaron’s Blood offers several intriguing ideas — a phlebotomist father with a haemophiliac-turned-vampire son is an idea ripe for exploration — but is hampered with ideas seemingly not fully thought through. Another problem I had was the fact that three dream sequences occurred in the first 35 minutes of the film. If one or more of these had been actual plot developments as opposed to mere swerves, Aaron’s Blood might have been a stronger outing. As it is, the film is an uneven effort that goes for the heartstrings more than the jugular vein.
Aaron’s Blood is now available through On Demand and Digital HD, and is currently playing in select cinemas.
By Joseph W. Perry (@JosephWPerryJWP)