In 2005, after the ban on fox hunting was put into place, five young hunters – amongst them the “face” of the pro hunting movement in Britain, Lucas Bell – retired to the Island of Mull in Scotland to escape threats from militant animal rights groups. Once they arrived (after a bit of deer slaughter) they were drugged and distributed across the island in their underwear to be ‘hunted’ by masked gunmen, extremist animal rights activists. Videos the attackers made of the five denouncing their hunting convictions instantly went viral on Youtube.
This documentary combines interviews with four of the five – one, notable absence is Lucas himself – with a dramatic reconstruction of the events on the island. And, if you believe that, you might need to see some kind of gullibility specialist.
The film’s conceit – a path recently trodden by countless movies, Paranormal Activity, The Fourth Kind, yadda – is the “is it real or isn’t it” conundrum. Only, it really, really isn’t. If you hadn’t worked it out from the hammy opening or painfully fictitious ‘Real Animal League’ website (the group purported to have made the kidnappings), the actors playing the ‘real’ characters, recounting their tales to camera, are, for the most part, embarrassingly drama school-esque. The only exception is Adam Best, heartily convincing as Irish farm lad Ben Fitzpatrick, Lucas’s best mate.
The ‘dramatic reconstruction’ scenes have the makings of a well paced, beautifully shot, bread-and-butter thriller. The masked gunmen are suitably menacing, the island is eerie and breathtaking, the characters are mostly well-drawn. If only, every ten minutes or so, one of the ‘interviewees’ didn’t drive a steam roller through the drama with “I was feeling scared at that point” – yes, we can see that – or, “It was cold because I was in my underwear” – YES, WE KNOW.
It all begs the question, what is the point of a mockumentary? If it’s realism, than the film tries too hard. You might as well cut fake interviews into Elf and call it a viral. If it’s to spook us, than the film fails because tension is everything to a thriller like this, and each interjection smashes the carefully built tension with a sledgehammer.
If the filmmakers had enough faith in the plot to let it stand as a straight up drama, without signposting us through it like a socially enept tourguide with the pointless “It’s real! Honest!” mechanism, Blooded would have been worth watching. As it is, it’s half of everything – mockumentary, thriller, horror, even a farcical comedy with all it’s embarrassing “acting” – but never really anything.