Review: ‘Blood Conscious,’ starring Oghenero Gbaje, DeShawn White, Lenny Thomas and Nick Damici

September 9, 2021

by Carla Hay

DeShawn White, Oghenero Gbaje and Lenny Thomas in “Blood Conscious” (Photo courtesy of Dark Sky Films)

“Blood Conscious”  

Directed by Timothy Covell

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city, the horror film “Blood Conscious” features a group of African American and white people representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A college student, his older sister and the sister’s fiancé travel to the home of the siblings’ parents in a remote lake area, for what they think will be a relaxing family vacation, only to find a bloody massacre and a madman who thinks demons disguised as humans are on the loose.

Culture Audience: “Blood Conscious” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching poorly made horror movies with unsatisfying endings.

DeShawn White, Nick Damici and Oghenero Gbaje in “Blood Conscious” (Photo courtesy of Dark Sky Films)

If you’re going to have an over-used “stranded in the woods with a murderer” plot, then you better be able to deliver a well-made story that’s actually scary. Unfortunately, the filmmakers of “Blood Conscious” couldn’t even deliver the basic elements of an interesting horror movie in this tedious, derivative and amateurish junk. “Blood Conscious” is the first feature film for writer/director Timothy Covell and some of the cast members. This lack of experience shows in almost every single minute of this dreadful film, which looks like it was made from a screenplay that wasn’t even close to being completed.

How many times has this concept been done in a horror movie? Too many times to count. A group of people travel to a remote area in the woods for what they think will be a nice vacation. Instead, their vacation turns into a bloody massacre. You might have already fallen asleep just reading about this boring idea.

In “Blood Conscious,” this idea is stretched and mangled in the most idiotic ways. A horror movie shouldn’t be about people sitting around in a remote house, having dull conversations after they’ve just found several murdered people on the property. If you want to make a movie about people having dull conversations in a remote area, then make a movie about a meditation retreat. Don’t try to fool people into thinking that they’re going to see a terrifying horror movie.

The three people at the center of this vortex of monotony in “Blood Conscious” are 19-year-old college student Kevin (played by Oghenero Gbaje), his older sister Brittney (played by DeShawn White) and Brittney’s fiancé Tony (played by Lenny Thomas), who sees himself as the “alpha male” of this group. They travel by SUV to a remote house in a wooded lake area to meet up with Brittney and Kevin’s parents, who own the house and some other dwellings on the property. It’s supposed to be a relaxing family vacation.

On the ride to this wooded area, which is in unnamed U.S. city (the movie was actually filmed in New York state), Tony lectures Kevin that the way to be a real man is to have the ability to sell yourself as a brand and an image. “I’m not just selling,” Tony brags. “I’m closing [the deal].” Brittney also thinks that her younger brother has a lot of growing up to do. “He just plays video games,” she tells Tony in a condescending tone of voice.

During this car trip, Brittney has been trying to reach her parents by phone, but no one is answering. Not long after the trio gets to the house, they see why no one was answering the phone. They find four people murdered outside, including Kevin and Brittney’s parents. The other murdered people are two men who are unidentified strangers. The dead people all look like they’ve been shot.

Suddenly, a mysterious middle-aged man (played by Nick Damici), who’s armed with a shotgun, gets up from off of the ground and holds the three people at gunpoint. This aggressive gunman demands to know if Kevin, Brittney and Tony are humans or demons. Kevin replies, “We’re on vacation.” It’s this movie’s misguided attempt at comedy.

The gunman takes the car keys and holds Kevin, Brittney and Tony hostage in the main house. He tells them that if they’re really humans, “I’m sorry.” But, he adds, “I can’t take any chances. You ain’t seen what I’ve seen.” He then tells them to lock the door and don’t let anyone else in the house until the sun comes up. And then he leaves.

Whoever this mystery man is, he didn’t bother to take the hostages’ cell phones. But just as Tony is about to use his phone to call for help, their abductor comes back and sees the phone that Tony put on the floor and stupidly didn’t bother trying to hide. And so, the gunman takes all of the hostages’ cell phones and then leaves in the stolen SUV, without tying up his victims or locking them in a place where they can’t escape.

In other words, these “hostages” are free to move around and leave the house. They soon find out that even though the house has landline service, someone took the landline phones in the house. The parents’ car is on the property, but the car keys are nowhere in sight, and no one knows how to hotwire a car.

Instead of leaving to get help, these three dimwits walk around as if they’re doing a property tour. And that’s when they discover more murdered people they’ve never seen before. Kevin goes into a guest house and finds a dead woman holding a pistol. In the boathouse, Brittney finds a man who’s been stabbed with large scissors. Tony finds another dead man out by the lake. The bodies have photo IDs but no car keys or phones.

At this point, it’s still daylight. Despite going through this traumatic event, most people would have the common sense to leave and try to find help. But not this trio of morons. They stay at the house until nighttime, when they would be much more likely to get lost walking in this remote area in the dark, compared to walking during the daylight.

And only when it’s pitch-dark does Tony come up with the idea to leave to try to get help. He insists on walking alone, while Brittney and Kevin have to stay on the property with all the dead bodies. While walking in the dark on the road, Tony finds the trio’s cell phones have been broken and discarded. The SUV has been abandoned, and smoke is coming out of the engine.

And what do you know: The gunman comes back to the house. Kevin and the gunman get into a scuffle when Kevin tries to take the man’s shotgun. As an example of how badly written this movie is, just at that moment, Tony has suddenly come back to the house and gets in on the brawl too. The rest of the movie is just more nonsense that ultimately offers no real answers about what’s going on and why this story even exists.

At one point in the film, a middle-aged blonde woman who calls herself Margie (played by Lori Hammel) emerges from the woods at night and calls out for help. She says that her husband Walter was one of the people who was massacred, but she managed to escape and lost her phone in the process. Brittney takes pity on her and invites her into the house. However, Kevin is suspicious of Margie because he’s starting to believe the gunman’s story that there are demons on the loose, and Kevin thinks Margie could be one of them.

“Blood Conscious” seems to be making some kind of heavy-handed statement about racism with the Margie character, because slowly but surely, Margie reveals that she isn’t quite the mild-mannered victim that she first appears to be. She begins to act superior to her African American rescuers. And the next thing you know, she’s calling them “you people” and acting as if Kevin, Troy and Brittney are the ones who could be the violent thugs.

It’s all just an unimaginative distraction for a non-existent plot. The acting in “Blood Conscious” isn’t the worst you’ll ever see, but it’s wildly uneven, with a lot of awkward pauses in the horribly written dialogue. There are too many scenes of the characters just hanging out at the house, when most people in the same situation would do whatever it takes to leave and get help.

There’s no real sense of urgency that would be realistic for this type of emergency. Tony’s excuse for coming back to the house was that it was just too dark outside to continue walking. He thinks they should wait until the morning to get help. Brittney has one scene where she briefly cries and wails over the death of her parents. There’s no one way to grieve or process trauma, but the characters’ reactions to all these murders just don’t ring true at all because the screenplay is just so half-baked and sloppy.

The movie gets worse when certain characters have an idea that they should’ve thought about long ago. After a while, viewers are going to feel like the real horror isn’t with the killer on the loose but being stuck in a room with these boring imbeciles who spend half of their time arguing with each other instead of getting help in this emergency situation. And the ending of this movie is simply atrocious. “Blood Conscious” doesn’t look like a real horror movie. It looks more like a rejected film school project.

Dark Sky Films released “Blood Conscious” in select U.S. cities, on digital and VOD on August 20, 2021. The movie’s DVD release date is on September 28, 2021.

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