BLOOD PARADISE (2019)
Directed by Patrick von Barkenberg
Written by Andréa Winter, Patrick von Barkenberg
Starring Andréa Winter, Patrick von Barkenberg, Christer Cavallius, Martina Novak, Rolf Brunnström, Ellinor Berglund, Lars Brunnström, Ingrid Hedström, Frankie Batista, Jakob Brunnström Hedström, Linda Dahlin, Greta the Chicken, Simon the Tortoise, & Bauer the Hunting Dog!
Find out more about this film here
It’s not often that I happen upon a fantastic little surprise of a movie, but I did just that with BLOOD PARADISE. In a nutshell, the film is unconventional, quirky, playful, sensual, creepy, and just a whole lot of fun.
The career of writer Robin Richards (Andréa Winter) has seen brighter days. Her latest book is a critical and financial flop, she’s bored with her life with her boy-toy Teddy (Patrick von Barkenberg), and she’s experiencing a serious case of writer’s block which is getting in the way of redeeming herself with her next novel. So Robin decides to take a writer’s retreat to Sweden in order to clear her mind and hopefully find some inspiration. Instead she finds an uber-fan named Hans (Christer Cavallius), a reclusive farmer named Rolf (Rolf Brunnstrom), and some truly weird characters. Soon enough, Robin finds herself stalked by someone in the shadows and things start getting bloody odd…and bloody bloody.
Writer/director Patrick von Barkenberg and his co-writer Andréa Winter (who also stars in the film as Robin) have put together an unconventional and quirky little film in BLOOD PARADISE. While the setup of having a writer with writer’s block looking for inspiration and happening upon it in the weirdest of places has been used to death, this film injects all kinds of odd moments and characters that make this all feel like you’ve seen it for the first time. Winter is a classic beauty and would be right at home with the likes of Catherine Deneuve or Lana Turner. With her in the lead lends a sensual mysteriousness to the entire film. She is, of course, the most beautiful thing these backwoods Swedes have ever seen and causes all of their jaws to drop (especially when her clothes are stolen when she decides to go skinny dipping and the beauty must hike it home in the buff). But beneath the stunning exterior, there is a darkness and melancholy of a woman who seems to have peaked and is on the downward slide. Barkenberg does a fantastic job of highlighting her beauty and her heavy sadness with very few lines and long lingering shots of her wondering if this is all there is left to her achievements in life.
Aside from the character stuff, BLOOD PARADISE also sports a boppy local folksy style of music that permeates throughout this odd narrative. Sometimes it’s appropriate, as Robin discovers the beauty of the countryside and sees the sights. Other times, it is downright surreal as it is juxtaposed against some pretty savage brutality and uncanny imagery. Barkenberg also divides this film with title cards focusing on one particular person introduced into Robin’s path at a time. Again, this makes for a reminder that we are following a writer on this journey, but also a celebration of the cinema itself.
The film definitely goes out of its way to highlight that this corner of the world she has chosen to vacation in isn’t a safe place to be. While there are some moments that seem overly outlandish for outlandish-sake, it all culminates in a really effective and joyously rambunctious manner by the film’s climax. There is definitely a TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE vibe going on here as everyone but Robin seems to either be in on the blood thirsty activities or a victim to them. Reminiscent of another backwoods horror film IDYLL aka KILLBILLIES, this film does a good job of making sure I never go on vacation. But the terror is all done with a joyous glee that you can’t help but be infected by, right up to the very last frame that, to me, is downright perfect.