‘Blood On Her Name’ Blu-Ray Review – A Palpable Tale Of Immorality And Bad Decisions

There is a part of human nature that kicks in whenever you pass by an accident on the road. Everyone slows down for safety reasons, but there is that nagging curiosity that makes you have to glance over to see if you can catch a glimpse at what happened. If you are the type who lingers a bit too long, you might be a prime audience member for Matthew Pope’s fatalistic thriller Blood On Her Name. The Southern-fried feature takes classic noir tropes and uses them to bring the audience to a breaking point of understanding. Watching this story unfold is as if you are watching an accident happen that you are powerless to prevent. It may not be pretty, but you cannot tear your eyes away. 

The opening sequence is a thing of beauty; a battered Leigh (Bethany Anne Lind) is seen standing in the commercial garage she runs with a freshly-dead body next to her leaking out a growing pool of blood. There is a split second where a call to 911 is considered, but you see a decision cross her face to abandon that idea which marks the first of many tragic decisions. The particulars of what exactly transpired is something that will be slowly doled out over the course of the film, but for now the desperate woman is quick to clean up the mess and dispose of the body. Yet, Leigh cannot quite cross the finish line thanks to a pesky set of morals that make the idea of leaving his family without closure too much to stomach. 

This eight-minute, nearly wordless sequence is never quite matched in terms of sheer artistry, but the anxiety remains at a medium-bubble throughout. With only a surface-level appraisal of Leigh for the first stretch of the film, Lind and the filmmakers do an excellent job of making you sympathize with the character. Her minute facial expressions and vulnerable physicality make you protective of her despite knowing next to nothing about her background. She is a mother of Ryan (Jared Ivers), a juvenile delinquent who she fiercely defends as a “good boy” despite the world and his parole office saying otherwise. She is trying to break the cycle of toxicity for him that she was burdened with and her unseen convict ex-husband is modeling for his progeny. That’s not to mention her estranged father, Officer Richard Tiller (Will Patton, Minari), who has had his own impact on his daughter’s life. 

If all of this sounds very opaque, that is by design. This twisty thriller runs a lean 83 minutes, and throughout this time the script very deliberately gives you new pieces to the puzzle until you are left with the complete, inevitable ending. Each development gives you a new perspective on everything that has come before. The general themes emanating from this story are wrestling with sins of the past and the conflict between self-preservation and seeking absolution. There are numerous moments when Leigh makes an incriminating decision that will make you want to yell at the screen, but the text does give justification for her actions even if you are not personally on board. The use of flashbacks allows Leigh to examine how she became the person she is today, a good person who has screwed up her life through absorbed perniciousness. There is an argument to be made that she wants to be caught in order to provide a clean slate moving forward. It is maddening, but never less than captivating.

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Blood On Her Name finds most of its strength in the assured performances and the keen direction. Bethany Anne Lind tackles what could be a very difficult character with grace and humanity, subtly keeping you invested in her fate even when you are fed up with her actions. Will Patton likewise delivers a commanding performance that is expected from a man of his talents. Although he is one of the few authority figures in the film, he feels like the most morally slippery most of the time. The direction from Matthew Pope keeps you holding your breath with his uneasy framing and unwavering pacing that never loses sight of the finish line. Despite some misguided character choices, the film is one worthy of checking out for all of the elements in which it excels.

Video Quality

Blood On Her Name makes its Blu-Ray debut with a pretty strong 1080p video presentation that should please most genre fans. The image is clean with the nuanced, natural color palette popping off the screen. The film employs some deep colors when the expanses of nature are featured, which makes for a very vibrant image. The presentation shows off an impressive amount of depth, especially in the interior of the garage and the trailer. The production design along with the fabrics of clothing provide crystal clear textural details. The black levels lack a bit of depth and show signs of crush and banding in certain shots. There are also compression artifacts present at points. The flesh tones are natural with a magnificent amount of detail present in close-ups. There are a few areas where this disc could be improved, but overall this Blu-Ray is an enjoyable representation of this movie. 

Audio Quality

Once again, Yellow Veil Pictures chooses to give this Blu-Ray a Dolby Digital 5.1 lossy audio track instead of a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, which does sound quite good but could likely be given greater nuance with a lossless track. Environmental sounds of the world engage the surround speakers in an effective way. When characters are sneaking around cramped spaces, there are some intriguing ambient details that flesh out the setting. Dialogue is the driving force of the film, and it always comes through clearly without being clipped by any competing sounds. The score is effective and well-balanced while maintaining its fidelity. Hard-hitting moments are not a consistent part of this track, but a few moments deliver the goods such as gunfire. Otherwise, the low end of the track mostly provides some nice texture to the proceedings. The audio track gets the job done, but it potentially could have been a richer experience with a full lossless track. 

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary: Co-Writer/Director Matthew Pope and Co-Writer/Producer Don Thompson provide a sturdy and informative commentary track in which they discuss shooting the initial proof-of-concept, the ways in which they utilized the locations and props around them, stories from the production of the film, the range of faces from Bethany Anne Lind, the complications of indie filmmaking, dangerous scenes they ended up cutting from the film and much more that makes for an entertaining track. 
  • Audio Commentary #2: Co-Writer/Director Matthew Pope and Actor Bethany Anne Lind provide a great commentary track in which they discuss various details about the production, reshoots that they had to pick up, getting fake blood to look right, the pacing of the reveals in the film and more. 
  • Proof Of Concept with Commentary: A nearly six-minute sizzle reel is provided here with commentary from Pope and Thompson which mimics the opening moments of the finished film. The two discuss the necessity in securing financing through this and the visual language of the project. They also note that they are talking over certain portions since they originally used music they did not have the rights to since it was not meant for public consumption. 
  • Cast & Crew In Conversation: A fantastic 47-minute virtual conversation between Pope, Thompson, and Lind in which they discuss the genesis of the project, the focus on character, how they came together and so much more. What must be focused on is the decision by Pope to go on Letterboxd throughout the interview and sprinkle in some comments from the film’s page which leads to some hilarious and awkward moments.  
  • Teaser: A 40-second teaser is provided here. 
  • Theatrical Trailer: The two-minute trailer is provided here. 
  • Booklet: A multi-page booklet featuring the essay “Sins Of The Father” from film critic Walter Chaw is provided here. This piece gives a well-rounded analysis of the themes of the film that may make you forgive even some of the more maddening elements.  
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Final Thoughts

Blood On Her Name offers up a strong command on tension and careful reveals at every turn. Not every character decision is satisfying, but the script does its best to provide motivations for these choices. The performances are incredibly strong across the board, and the thoughtful direction elevates this one even further. Yellow Veil Pictures and Vinegar Syndrome have released a Blu-Ray featuring a pretty solid A/V presentation and a great assortment of special features. If you want to get your pulse pumping, be sure to check this one out. Recommended 

Blood On Her Name is currently available to purchase on Standard Edition Blu-Ray or with a Limited Edition Slipcover exclusively through Vinegar Syndrome. 

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Yellow Veil Pictures and Vinegar Syndrome have supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.

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