As a script writer for hire, UK script consultant and UK Script editor I’m about to move into the release phase of my low budget directorial debut – Markham. A rubber reality horror film shot on a VERY low budget. So I spend a lot of time watching low budget horror films. Book of Blood (2009) is based on a couple of short stories by Clive Barker, I picked it up recently on DVD, not sure what to expect…
Book of Blood is obviously a low budget film and early on has the feel of a film by a first time director, the pace is all over the place, the actors (and characters) don’t make an impression and often have clumsy dialogue, or make questionable choices (which seem driven by the plot rather than the characters themselves.) Nothing seems believable or real and it’s hard to suspend disbelief early on.
But slowly, things do get better and the atmosphere builds at times to legitimate scares. The low budget means that most of the film is set in a typical haunted house (in Edinburgh this time, which adds a few nice backdrops) with the three main cast members recording and documenting ghost sightings and paranormal experiences in the property.
The camerawork is often good, and the actors are committed to the film and try their best. As we move towards the end of the film. The effects increase as we find ourselves on a kind of ‘highway of the dead’ – the low budget is used creatively, and the filmmakers try to get as much bang for their buck as possible.
The film is also bookended with a prologue and an epilogue, that works fine, and is helped by the actor Clive Russell (the most talented performer in this, who would have better been cast as one of the central three).
While Book of Blood doesn’t work overall, it’s got enough in the film to warrant another viewing, and now having made low budget horror myself I know the amount of work that will have gone into this film, and the constantly battle against big ideas and ‘little money’ to realise them.
Finally the film is a missed opportunity, but worth watching, it gets better scares than some higher budget horror, and at times the film does hit home as a genuine ‘Barker’ film. The filmmakers have worked hard on a low budget, and just missed, …it happens and they should be encouraged.
Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire, UK Script editor and script doctor for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on email@example.com or hire him on Peopleperhour
His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham will be released in 2020.