Directed by Seth Ickerman
Notable cast: Elisa Lasowski, Anders Heinrichsen,
Christian Erickson, Joëlle Berckmans
It would be both easy, and understandable, to want to call Blood
Machines surreal, to say that's it's an experiment of style over substance.
I don't even think you could call someone wrong for saying so, although I don't
agree. For one, the plot is firmly rooted and consistent with its lore.
Admittedly, it's exceptionally dense lore with no entry point, no exposition,
only what you infer from itself and its predecessor (we'll touch on that
momentarily), and what you osmose from official sources and a little bit
online. In a way that would make it more in line with something like Primer,
though not as pretentious or narratively satisfying. More emotionally so perhaps.
The real best place to start is with French Synthwave music,
or more specifically Carpenter Brut. After releasing three EPs, collected on an
LP known as Trilogy, Brut started a working relationship with French directing
duo (under a single pseudonym) Seth Ickerman, loaning his music to a trailer of
theirs leading ultimately to Ickerman directing all of the music videos from
Trilogy. Of those, the video Turbo Killer captured the imaginations of both
fans and Brut himself, leading ultimately to a film sequel in the form of Blood
Machines. I think this context is an important lens to view this movie
through, as it informs the style and sound of it. Despite the obviously deep
and seemingly well-thought-out universe, there is very little dialogue and
everything, especially the climactic set-piece, is set to great metal and
horror-inspired synthwave music, scored by a returning Carpenter Brut.
The story, such as it is, is that in deep space a rogue AI
has crashed on an alien planet. A pair of rogue AI hunters, so-called
"blade runners" (no one accused it of being subtle just vague), have
followed the ship "Mima" housing it and when a mysterious group of
nomads confronts the hunters and seemingly gives the Mima's AI a human form the
captain of the ship takes one of the nomads hostage, killing the others.
Defying orders from his superior to salvage the ship the blade runners instead
chase the Mima's AI, a being they do not understand.
Whether or not they did, it definitely looks like they built
everything practically or in miniature, as things have a stunning gravity to
them. All the more impressive as everything becomes more and more bombastic, as
they chase the AI to a ship graveyard that all leads to one of the most
visually exciting climaxes I've seen in a while, juxtaposing ballroom dancing
with epic space combat.
Blood Machines definitely isn't an experience for
everyone, but if you were ever curious about what a goth Baz Luhrman space
opera would look like, this is a pretty cool example.