And he rolled off into the sunset…. Some say he’s still rollin
this hedgehog is cheering for u bc u can do anything
Beck was a real friend
Best tweett ever, By Thomas Hiddleston
Dark Blood (1993/2012)
In the beginning voice-over narration by George Sluizer (Director) describing how he came to finish Dark Blood, he describes the film as a chair with three legs - the fourth leg forever missing but able to stand alone - and this is an apt analogy; the film stands on its own, so long as you don’t sit on it…meaning if you go in with the weight of expectation it may crumple, but viewed for what it is I find it a fascinating experimental piece of art. It’s beautifully shot and performed, an eclectic combination of modern western - character/relationship study - social commentary on colonization, greed, and excess - and one Boy’s solitary madness.
I’m going to focus on River in this analysis, not just for obvious reasons but because Boy is the quick-change unpredictable elemental force that drives the movie. The biggest issue the story faces is there’s no traditional protagonist: Boy is neither clear-cut villain nor anti-hero, and Buffy and Harry - the unwitting, narcissistic, weary married couple who become tangled in his web - are largely unsympathetic, so the viewer isn’t given any easy character to root for; Harry is a self-absorbed oaf and an ass who thinks he can buy his way out of any situation and Buffy is a tired, jaded trollop who doesn’t quite know how to deal with the bizarre events that unfold. Of course this lack of a traditional protagonist is intentional and intrinsic to the story as told, though I can see how viewers could interpret it as a flaw or shortcoming; it’s not an emotive film in the traditional sense - for me its strength was in its tone and how in made me feel afterwards, in the way the movie stayed with me and made me think about it. The end annoyed and saddened me, there is no justice, but it was fitting with the film’s sensibility - a weird, unconventional unfinished piece but mostly wonderfully so.
Watching River as Boy - a hermit widower basically waiting for a woman to copulate with in his ‘apocalypse bunker’ (he’s a horny boy hahaha), living in self-imposed isolation and solitude away from the white man’s greed-driven evil outside world and having gone somewhat mad in the process, waiting for the end of times - is like watching a beautiful, unpredictable wild beast; there’s a glint in his eye that’s at once compelling and disturbing. The role as written is fairly one-note and not one of great range, but River creates a character who’s at once charismatic, cocky, charming, unpredictable, disturbing and scary, with a dash of innocence and child-like wonder and his usual subtle humor even as Boy is often driven by obsession, anger and frustration. When Boy is on screen the movie comes alive, he’s like a live wire. For me it’s a performance that’s grown in stature with each viewing as its subtleties unfold and come to light, a very different turn from River and one that he clearly threw himself into with intensity and a keen eye.
For all the by now well-known difficulties on the set between Sluizer and Davis and subsequent problems it caused on the production, this doesn’t translate to the screen in any palpable detrimental way; in fact because the story itself turns on conflict, while horribly unfortunate for River - having been caught in the middle - and all the people involved in making the film really, the problems on set may have actually contributed to the authentic unsettling feel of the film, and River’s on-screen chemistry with Davis is good. (one note: the reported sex scene between Boy and Buffy is not in the movie, one of the crucial scenes covered only with Sluizer’s voice-over narration, so whether it was ever actually shot or not is still a mystery to me.) Having this last piece of the puzzle in terms of River’s relatively short but powerful career makes my heart ache; it’s a fascinating performance and just makes me yearn all the more for the different characters River never got the chance to create.
I don’t usually reblog my own posts, but catching up with the notes I saw this, my original review of Dark Blood, and thought with the upcoming VOD release of the film in the US (and River’s 44th Birthday!) it might be timely to post again for those who might want to read my thoughts on River’s last film. <3 (Also, just a quick update: according to George Sluizer, the sex scene towards the end of the film was on an existing reel that went ‘missing’ - either lost or stolen - before he was able to edit the film together.)