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Painted in Blood

USA 2022
produced by
Aaron Mirtes for Exit 10 Films
directed by Aaron Mirtes
starring Deiondre Teagle, Deborah Seidel, Brad Belemjian, Allison Shrum, Zach Lazar Hoffman, David Ditmore, Alice Raver, Dylan A. Young
written by Aaron Mirtes

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Malik (Deiondre Teagle) is a painter with all his heart, and with considerable talent even - but without success to match his aspirations. In fact he's hardly able to pay his housemate Carson (Brad Belemjian) his share of the rent money. So it's a Godsent when Malik finds a job as night watchman at a local art gallery, especially since the owner, Trisha (Deborah Seidel), proves to be a kindred spirit who's genuinely interested in his art and even exhibits one of his pictures. It also promises to be a pretty easy job, as usually the gallery doesn't even need a night watchman, just now they have a painting with a dark history on display, Le Mort, painted by one Fiona Walsh (Allison Shrum), who killed herself upon finishing the picture. It's supposed to be cursed, but that's urban legend of course - but might make it interesting for some nutjobs with a criminal streak nevertheless. Now the job at first is as eventless as expected, and Malik feels quite at home surrounded by all the art - but then Le Mort, the cursed painting, seems to put Malik under a spell. Initially, he only thinks he sees and hears things that turn out to be illusions, but then Le Mort starts talking to him, promises to be his mentor - if only he follows its request and starts painting in blood. Like in a trance, Malik does what asks, and he replaces his painting in the gallery with the new one - which is met with Trisha's initial disapproval ... until the picture sells for a price far above her expectations.

One night, there's a break-in in the gallery, but Malik stops the intruder with the very knife he uses to cut his hand for painting - and it turns out to be none other than his housemate Carson. Upon the shock this must have caused, and also out of gratitude, Trisha gives Malik a few days off - which Malik uses to establish himself a secret studio in the gallery's basement, just to be able to paint while being close to Le Mort. But continuing to paint using his own blood, and in secret as well, can really only lead to one thing, and that's disaster ...

 

Now in pure writing, Painted in Blood sounds probably silly, pulpy and preposterous all at the same time, but on screen it comes across quite differently, not so much as spectacle horror but a dark meditation about art and its often self-sacrificing creation. And that said, I freely admit the film does come speculative at times, even far-fetched, there's nevertheless something honest about its approach, that despite being properly atmospheric with all the shock at all the right times shows some deep respect for art as such, which is mirrored in the film's rather elegant stylistic approach. And a small but very able ensemble make this one piece of very cool and pleasantly unusual genre entertainment.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
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directed by
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written by
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