J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Blood Brothers: Technically Half-Brothers, but They’re Just as Deadly

They want to be the next Leopold and Loeb, but they are more like Frasier and Niles Crane. Unfortunately, at least one of them will really take to killing. Their superior intellect is debatable, but the mounting body count is undeniable in Jose Prendes’ Blood Brothers (trailer here), which releases tomorrow in select theaters and on VOD.

It was definitely their evil, boozy, bedridden mother, who so profoundly screwed-up half-brothers Charles Brubaker and Thomas Lo Bianco, but she will have to wait until the third act. For now, they will have to start with their first victim, who must perfectly suit the occasion—as Lo Bianco insists. After an awkward misadventure with a prostitute, they settle on Genevieve, a waitress at their favorite diner.

Ironically, once they commence the crime, the siblings’ roles reverse. The formerly reluctant Brubaker develops a sadistic taste for killing, while the elitist Lo Bianco is horrified by the reality of what they have done. Suddenly, Brubaker becomes the dominant one, which rather suits Mother Dearest, because he was always her favorite. He will also try to keep Detective Homer Caul at bay, but dealing with the cop will be tricky because he has what they used to call “the Shine.”

Blood Brothers is a tonal mish-mash that is always too over-stylized to generate any real scares. However, it will still be required viewing for diehard 1980s horror fans, because of the significant supporting turns from Barbara Crampton (as the mother from Hell) and Ken Foree (as Det. Caul). Sadly, they have very little screen-time together, so it is not a proper From Beyond reunion, but they both still bring a lot of invigorating energy and attitude.

Graham Denman and Jon Kondelik are also pretty impressive as the half-brother, convincingly portraying the drastic change in their fraternal relationship dynamics. To her credit, Hannah Levien seems like two entirely different people in the dual role of Genevieve and Vanity the hooker. Yet, something about the film’s look and atmosphere constantly works against them.


There are flashes of inspiration throughout Blood Brothers, but there are just as many sequences that face-plant. Prendes fearlessly goes for broke, but sometimes he would be far better served by showing greater restraint. The result is an interesting mess that will reward some horror fans much more than others. Mainly recommended for Crampton and Foree fans eager for any potentially nostalgic vehicle, Blood Brothers releases tomorrow (12/2) on VOD and in limited theaters—it also opens next Friday (12/9) in LA, at the Laemmle Royal.

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