Blood Vessel (MA) - 95 minutes
We are somewhere in the North Atlantic in the latter half of 1945 … near the end of the war.
There we find a life raft adrift at sea and in it the survivors of a torpedoed hospital ship.
Among them are American Captain Malone (Robert Taylor), British nurse Jane Prescott (Alyssa Sutherland) and Gerard Faraday (John Lloyd Fillingham) from British Intelligence.
With them are gung-ho American Lydell Jackson (Christopher Kirby), who knows his way around ships, US Navy cook Jimmy Bigelow (Mark Diaco) and Russian foot soldier Alexander Teplov (Alex Cooke).
And that is not to overlook Australian infantryman Nathan Sinclair (Nathan Phillips).
With no food, water, or shelter, all seems lost – until an abandoned German minesweeper drifts ominously towards them, giving them one last chance at survival.
As the motley bunch clamours aboard and then explores the ship, it becomes all too clear that some diabolical fate has befallen its crew.
The mystery only deepens when they encounter a wide-eyed, young Romanian girl, apparently the sole survivor, who leads them to a locked storage room in the bowels of the vessel.
Inside are a frantic German sailor and a haul of Nazi treasure – stolen artworks, gold and artefacts – including the ancient sarcophagi of two long-dead vampires.
After a sudden and fatal confrontation, the survivors are forced into action against a supernatural reckoning older and deadlier than the war they thought they were escaping.
Suitably titled, Blood Vessel is the work of writer (alongside Jordan Prosser) and director Justin Dix, who has unabashedly taken his cues from the world of Bram Stoker. He specifically tips his hat to Nosferatu.
A disparate argumentative group get picked off one by one. What more can you want from a vampire flick that calls upon tropes of the genre?
Bad acting? Tick. Dark settings. Ditto. Religious iconography. Yep. Evocative sound. Sure thing.
Add to that greed and desperation.
Gradually we are fed snippets of background detail about those caught in this invidious situation – in many cases specifically what the war has robbed them of.
Some are more selfish than others. Let’s just say camaraderie is hard won by, although before this is over there will be some respect among a few of them.
Little of significant stimulation happens in the first half hour.
The ghoulish nature of the findings and the impact of the mind control of the awakened vampires grows as the film progresses.
An arresting score by Brian Cachia adds to the tension, while the ending is most appropriate, given what has gone down.
Hardly a must see, Blood Vessel has enough going for it to make it watchable for those that have reasonably low expectations.
It is available on iTunes, Google, Fetch, Foxtel and Umbrella Entertainment.
Rated MA, it scores a 5 out of 10.