Hunting for meaning in a film fill of abstract mind fuckery; you tend to take a lot of naps. It took me two naps to wade through the neon polarization effects of Blood Beat and I’m sure my mind is incapable of processing the entire film, without spinning out in the wild jungles of insanity. The best I can convey from the film are a mish mash of images and a slap dash of scenes that more or less evoke the same common feeling; confusion. Blood Beat is Insidious with a major head injury. It’s The Shining with the measles. I have to apologize as a reviewer; I can only approximate what Blood Beat is really about, I can’t give you an accurate portrayal of the movie. It’s like trying to describe a moving abstract picture. The best I can do is talk about some of the scenes in the film, how they boil into existence then fizz away half forgotten, almost like a bad LSD trip.
Blood Beat is a samurai ghost summoned via an accidental blood ritual; someone finds a samurai sword in their closet and accidentally cuts her finger on the blade and lo and behold a samurai ghost appears from the nether realms. It’s clear the ghost is a malevolent poltergeist of some sort because it stabs people throughout the movie like any true samurai ghost should, but it’s not really clear what the ghost wants. The psychic mother says it wants her children but it can’t have them. She says this over and over in the movie but it still doesn’t really explain squat. It spends a lot of time harassing one family but it’s clear it’s not confined to a house like a normal haunting; it can go through the woods and even travels to kill the neighbors next door for no apparent reason.
Let me paint this scene: a couple and their dog sit on a huge water bed. The man screams at his wife about “getting his orange juice”. I had to laugh because, why orange juice? In a normal movie he would have asked her to get him a beer, but Blood Beat just can’t give you anything straight, so we get a water bed and orange juice. The woman, wife, whatever goes to fetch his beloved orange juice from the kitchen and is cut to pieces by a ghostly samurai. Bet she did not see that coming. The samurai kills the man too after some bumping around. This strange MO is confusing to me, even for a ghost. I mean, it makes sense in a horror movie kind of logic to pad the run time with some killing, but why the neighbors?
I have to back up a bit, this all may seem a bit confusing but all the exposition in the world won’t clear the fog. The movie begins in the woods, following a hunter tracking a deer. He brings it back to his girlfriend, who gets headaches and bad premonitions and doesn’t want to marry him. I only bring this up because they seem to make a big deal out of the fact the couple won’t get married because the psychic woman had a bad prior marriage, but I honestly can’t recall this ever being brought up again in the film. Like so many other things it seems important at the moment but is lost by the time the next scene rolls around. It’s around Christmas (another fact that doesn’t amount to much, it kind of is just there) and her kids are coming home for the holidays. Because the mother is so psychic and stuff she gets a bad vibe from her son’s new girlfriend Sarah, and it’s pretty dead on because she is the one to accidentally summon the samurai ghost warrior. She also uses her psychic abilities to peep in on her son while he is having sex with Sarah, which was actually pretty creepy.
The mother in this movie seems to be the only one who knows what is going on, having knowledge of the world beyond our own, however she really doesn’t say much of actual use. At one point the rest of the cast is shaking her, yelling at her, pleading with her to tell them what is happening, and she says something to the effect of “it’s him, he wants the children but can’t have them” and they all shake their heads like they understand but I was absolutely lost. The movie spends a lot of time with the psychic mom (Jenny) and she is kind of a lump on a log. She paints big ugly brown abstract pictures and kind of just mosses around the house in her shawl all day making cryptic statements about life.
Deer hunting seems to have a major part in this movie, but like everything else it doesn’t seem to gel with the samurai ghost plot or really anything else going on. A man says “check out my nice guns” and he really doesn’t mean his arms, he means his rifles. There’s a deer gutting scene and many references to the joy of hunting, but it doesn’t seem to make any thematic sense of tie-in with other elements of what was happening. Maybe they were comparing the deer to the people, and the ghost samurai was hunting people for trophy, but that really wasn’t spelled out. He never takes trophies from the dead victims. It is much like the fact that this takes place during the Christmas holiday season; it’s just kind of there.
The movie wraps up with a big psychic showdown of flashing lights and neon effects that would probably impress someone from some indigenous tribe in the jungle that has never seen a movie. It doesn’t do much for anyone else. At one point the psychic mom holds her hands out to her sides, they glow white, the room flashes blue and black for a solid minute of running time to really drive home the effect, but it’s unclear what she’s actually doing. Is she fighting the samurai ghost on some psychic plane of existence? Is she weaving a spell? Is she constipated? It’s really not clear, and I’m not sure I want to answer these questions. That’s the beauty of Blood Beat; you don’t quite understand what is going on but it’s so cheesy and funny and unique you just can’t stop watching. Honestly, it may have something to do with the samurai ghost induced orgasms.