415) Book of Blood (2008) Dir: John Harrison Date Released (DTV): September 2009 Date Seen: November 24, 2009 Rating: 2.5/5
If only John Harrison had had better material to work with than Clive Barker's characteristically flaccid short story "The Book of Blood." Like most of Barker's stories, it's all build-up, no release, nothing but promises of a new kind of Lovecraftian horror and no delivery. But Book of Blood could've been different: unlike the film adaptations that Barker made of his own work, it's directed by somebody good at conjuring atmosphere and an on-again, off-again knack for climaxes (If you haven't read any of Barker's stories, you'll probably think I'm laying it on thick with the sex puns; if you have read his stories, you'll think I'm going too easy on him). Harrison immediately goes at the viewer's throat in the film's memorable first scene, diving headlong into the completely de-eroticized, almost putrefied images of food that all of Barker's stories flirt with. In fact, that whole scene at the diner, which is arguably just the second of the film's three prologues, is a great example of Harrison's ability to be terrifying without the boring, more improbable aspects of Barker's story's pretentious fixation with corporeal torments. It's a fitting showcase of gruesome images without Barker's usual tired provocation. Hope Harrison's next is more like that and less like the more crucial parts of the film.