This movie is based on two separate Clive Barker stories, "Book of Blood" and "On Jerusalem Street", neither of which I remember very well. The film is the second of a series of stories from Barker's anthology "The Books of Blood" which are being adapted and released direct-to-video. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't overly impressed with Midnight Meat Train, the highly anticipated and long delayed first film of the series. I mean it was good and all, and Vinnie Jones was fantastic, but it had its flaws. So I sat down to Book of Blood with a mix of excitement and dread; I was looking forward to watching the movie, but worried it might not live up to my (now lowered) standards.
Mary is a professor of the paranormal. She's written a best-selling book on the topic and is now starting a new project, investigating a haunted house. She asks one of her students, Simon, to help her "open" the house, hoping that Simon's clairvoyance will help her come into contact with the spirits haunting the place. The spirits are communicative, if a bit violent, but Mary and Simon are both determined to hear their stories. The only problem is the manner in which they choose to tell their tales--the stories are written in blood, carved into Simon's flesh.
The film is bookended with Simon telling his own tale of woe to Wyburd, and though it's a useful way to get the story going, it causes a bit of a logic problem because the rest of the film is told from Mary's point of view. It's not really a huge issue, because the rest of the movie holds together, but it still.
Book of Blood starts off strong: we're introduced to the house with a great flesh-tearing scene the likes of which I haven't seen since Dagon, and the the Wyburd-Simon dynamic is facinating. But then the story stalls a bit, which is unfortunate because things were going so well. A romantic interlude, though it does help move the story forward, is about 20 minutes too long. Though Clive Barker makes a point of mixing sex and death, I found this particular on-screen coupling a bit awkward.
Things pick up when the story twists a bit, and we finally come to understand what's been happening in the house. The movie, after this turning point, is great, if a bit rushed. Simon's voice-over takes control of the narrative toward the end, and the film glosses over some really interesting stuff, including a thematic change that would have served the story way better than that second, and wholly unnecessary, sex scene.
In the end, I did enjoy Book of Blood. Liked it more than MMT, I think. I'm looking forward to the next installment in the series, and I'm wondering if it will carry on with the same tonal affects that worked so well in this film to create an atmosphere of brooding suspense.