The Bloodstone Diaries: Sleeper – The Bloodstone Diaries: The Thief of All Things

17 Feb

bloodstone-katysmall

Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

The Bloodstone Diaries: Sleeper, as I’ve heard, is the start of a possible Internet series, and right away, I want to state my gratitude for a web series with quality production. It also works nicely on the big screen, where is how I first saw it at the Ozark Foothills Filmfest in the spring of 2011. There’s a real professional look to the film, which would make it somewhat of a disappointment that this introduction to The Bloodstone Diaries is merely good, when it could have been great.

What I mean by that is that the story seems complex—that is, the tidbits we get from the story—for a ten-minute short film that leaves many holds barred and stops rather than ends. I’m guessing it’s setting up for the next entry in the series, but I think I’d be more satisfied if there was more closure to this one. I wanted more, which shows how interested I was in the dilemma that’s been set up. Luckily, I think I’ll get more when the next entry to this series is released, either on the screen at film festivals, or online.

The film starts with an opening-credit sequence—the credits are played over a black screen in an old-school fashion, but we get our introduction to our heroine Bettie Lawrence (Katy Allen, wife of “American Idol” Kris Allen) from the audio of a telephone call. She warns a mysterious man, whom she’s apparently tangled with in the past, that she has learned how to use a magic jewel called the Bloodstone and that it wouldn’t be wise to look for her (anymore). That’s it—that’s the introductory exposition we get. It’s very smart writing. A mysterious phone conversation during the opening credits is all we needed to set this up…all in 30 seconds, too!

When we see Bettie in person, she seems like a nice all-American girl with nothing particularly special about her, making her a credible heroine once we realize that the Government is hunting her because she gains possession of the jewel, which is what they want. They’ve killed her husband Sam, who tried to protect it in the past (at least I think that’s why they killed him—it’s never quite explained), and now she wants revenge. When they find her, she’ll be ready.

This setup is very intriguing—the mystery is there, the story sounds very interesting, the acting from Katy Allen is convincing, and the drama is legit. But that’s only the first six minutes out of a ten-minute film. The final three minutes (not including the end credits, taking the last minute of course) is just a showdown with the bad guys—the Men in Black—who arrive at her home and try to overtake her. As she escapes, she uses the Bloodstone to fight them. And because this climax is so short, there isn’t much room or time for either atmosphere or clarity in exactly what this Bloodstone is capable of. I guess it allows the holder of the stone to possess mind power (Bettie’s able to move a refrigerator without touching it), but what are we supposed to take from all of this? I guess Bettie will keep running and somehow on her quest, she’ll finally have her revenge. While this climax is admittedly well-shot and does have its brief moments, it’s too short and doesn’t take advantage of what should have been a dramatic payoff.

I would like to see “part two” to see where this is going to go. But I would particularly like to see an origin story. How did this young woman get involved in this craziness with the Bloodstone anyway? That would be a very interesting story arc.

You can watch this film here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zl0Kx4jBg4I

————————————————————————————————————————-

bettie-and-sam

Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

The Bloodstone Diaries: The Thief of All Things is what I’ve been waiting for since I first watched its predecessor, The Bloodstone Diaries: SleeperThe Bloodstone Diaries is a supposed web series (I use the term “supposed” since it’s apparently screening at film festivals before hitting the Internet) that mixes fantasy with action. It’s about a young woman who possesses an ancient, magic jewel known as the Bloodstone and seeks revenge on those who killed her husband; these same people also seek her to possess the jewel themselves. Sleeper was a welcome beginning that left me wanting more. And I got more from The Thief of All Things, which is actually a prequel instead of a sequel. It shows the events leading up to most of what occurs in Sleeper.

We see the origins of Bettie Lawrence (Katy Allen), the heroine of the series. She lives in a homeless camp by the railroad tracks with her husband Sam (Ian Moore). Bettie is a standoffish, hostile person who doesn’t let anything get in her way (including the local reverend who preaches to most of the homeless) and is the one who goes into town to steal valuables from people’s cars, while Sam lives mainly by faith. Sam’s friend Anthony Pace (C. Tucker Steinmetz) lives the same way, as well as a belief in destiny. That’s why when he mentions the Bloodstone, said to be a jewel mostly formed of Jesus’ blood, Sam can’t help but be interested.

By the way, one of my favorite moments is when Sam researches the Bloodstone. How does Sam find out more about the Bloodstone? Wikipedia, of course! (Duh!) But it turns out that searching online for something mystical and said to be mythical gains the attention of the government. The next day, several men in black reach the homeless camp to hunt down Anthony and Sam, with Bettie in tow. But Anthony has a few tricks up his sleeve…

The central chase scene is well-executed and feels very intense. The special effects are seamless—there’s one slow-motion scene involving Anthony using the power of the Bloodstone to stop a pursuing car by making it float into the air, and it’s done so greatly that I wonder if Andrew McMurry of YouTube’s AndrewMFilms, with his After Effects skills, would be able to pull that off. There was a real quality put into this production, and the filmmakers obviously went all out to make this an exciting experience. For the most part, they succeed.

And it is nice to see the original owner of the Bloodstone, as well as the lives of Bettie and Sam before the events of Sleeper.

There are a few problems I have with the movie, though. For one thing, I can’t quite believe that the Bloodstone has been protected for centuries, one protector after the other. First of all, have the people before these men in black really had no avail whatsoever? And if they didn’t, wouldn’t they have just given up the search after seeing what the power of the Bloodstone can do? Other little weaknesses are the lame subtitles that appear over each new location—one of them being, “miles from nowhere” — and the unnecessary opening dream sequence that shows Bettie losing a fatally wounded Sam, obviously foreshadowing a future event.

It came as no surprise that both Sam and Anthony are dead by the end of The Thief of All Things, because of course, Bettie must be the new lone protector of the Bloodstone. But somehow, the ending of this film never really hit the right notes. It ended a little too quickly, and I could have used a little more development for Bettie, whose question of faith and sudden new responsibility have been set up for an emotional payoff that just isn’t there. Best we get is a deadly stare in Bettie’s eyes that closes the movie—To Be Continued to be sure; only the question is, to be continued in Sleeper or another story before or after Sleeper? Guess I’ll have to find out later.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: