What do you do when your art inspires something that you can’t control?
A pair of indie filmmakers find out the hard way in 2017’s Fake Blood, which has its Toronto premiere on November 25th as part of the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival. Directed by Rob Grant and starring writers Rob Grant and Mike Kovac, the film is presented as a documentary. I found it hard to believe that this is a mockumentary because it’s just so realistic. The convincing cinematography and editing choices also lend to the film’s credibility.
The film tells the story of lifelong friends and filmmakers Rob and Mike, who enjoy making low budget horror movies. They star in the films, make their own fake blood, and use inexpensive props. Their films have been featured at a few small film festivals, but they certainly aren’t well known in the horror movie industry; nevertheless, the two continue making films because they enjoy it.
When they receive an anonymous email containing a video detailing how to commit a murder and get away with it, their lives take a dramatic turn. The video seems to have been inspired by one of their previous horror movies. But this is no fan fiction tribute. The mysterious video appears to be mocking them — and also depicts what may be an actual murder. At first, Rob and Mike think the video is a prank, but then realize that it could be real. Instead of trying to find out who sent the video, they ask a lawyer friend to set up a meeting with a guy who was convicted of murder so that they can pick his brain about what it’s really like to murder someone. I can’t be the only person who thinks this is a bad idea. I was invested in the characters of Rob and Mike almost immediately because they were relatable and likeable. The intimate behind-the-scenes conversations between them added to the realism and made me further question whether I was watching a movie or a documentary.
The killer (Len Harvey) goes by the name John Doe, and Rob and Mike have to promise not to show his face or reveal his identity in any way to get him to agree to be interviewed on camera. John Doe is quite a creepy guy and tells them wild and terrifying stories about his past. Rob becomes so fascinated with John that he makes the terrible decision to find out John’s real identity and the details about his crimes. Mike wants no part of Rob’s insane detective work, but that doesn’t stop Rob from tracking down the brother of one of John’s victims and subjecting him to an uncomfortable interview. Discovering the truth sets in motion an irreversible devastating chain of events and threatens to end Rob and Mike’s friendship.
The flashbacks of John’s murderous past are done as reenactments and the documentary even includes brief interviews with the actors playing John, his partner in crime, and the victims. Despite this, I actually forgot I was watching a movie several times and was legitimately concerned for the safety of Rob and Mike. All of these things make Fake Blood a great film; it’s fun and it’s also an edge-of-your-seat, rollercoaster thrill ride.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10 drops of blood.
Fake Blood premieres at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival at The Royal Cinema Saturday, November 25th at 4:30 pm.