INT. HOSPITAL — NIGHT. Walking through a dark, empty L.A. hospital all by her lonesome, a pretty blonde nurse heads for the showers after her shift is over. She strips off her clothes and stands beneath the hot water with her eyes clothes, relieved and relaxed at the end of a long day. Only she’s not alone: Someone is watching from across the room, and if you’ve seen PSYCHO, you can probably guess where Blumhouse’s BLOODLINE is going…
Or not? Working off a script he co-wrote with Avra Fox-Lerner, first-time feature director Henry Jacobson has a bit of fun subverting horror tropes and toying around with the idea of a gendered gaze in this gory horror-comedy. The film stars Seann William Scott (Stifler no more) as Evan Cole, a well-meaning social worker at a high school in East Los Angeles who has a rather unconventional way of dealing with the pressures of his 9-to-5 (not to mention his 5-to-9 as a new father): murdering people.
Like fellow “moralistic” serial killer Dexter (currently on hiatus in Argentina, y’all), Evan tells himself that the people he’s slaying dispatching really deserve it. His targets? The deadbeat drug addicts, rapists, and white supremacists his students are unfortunate enough to have as family members. Unlike Dexter, however (ever the calm, cool professional), Evan’s pretty sloppy and impulsive and emotional, so it’s not super surprising that soon a detective is sniffing around asking Evan, his wife (Mariela Garriga), and his mother (Dale Dickey) questions after police locate a few of the bodies.
Yes, it’s got a synth-laden soundtrack and gore galore, but BLOODLINE isn’t just a slasher: It also tackles postpartum anxieties in a way that few straightforward family dramas fail to do, revealing the interesting ways that having a child can change us deep within our core. There’s depression and relationship tension to deal with, of course, but there’s also this urge to protect our own that’s almost reptilian. Which makes it a shame that the film is so tonally off-kilter—a problem that’s all too apparent by the time the film makes one big mean-spirited misstep as it draws to a close.