If there’s one horror genre that isn’t explored as much as it should be, it’s a good, old-fashioned Native American curse movie. Nothing can send the shivers of White Man’s Guilt through a person like a horror movie that shows just how imaginative Hollywood has gotten with revenge to the point that an audience is pleading, “I’M SORRY!” to a lifeless screen in order to ward away the sins of their ancestors.
The 90s brought a few well-known movies on the vengeance of Native Americans: Poltergeist; Pet Sematary; even that horror movie that no-one remembers starring James Earl Jones, Grim Prairie Tales. The ideas stemmed from the white man disturbing Indian burial grounds, which puts most of us at risk because the tribes of the first people in the Americas were vast and migratory. Why, you may be sitting on an Indian burial ground right now!
This year, Indian curses return to the horror film genre with Bloodline (2013). Haunted by visions of his ancestors and the deaths of his family, Brett Ethos (played by Matt Thompson) attempts to forget the past by joining the priesthood. During the weekend before he dons the cloth, Brett and his friends decide to take a trip up to a desolate cabin that Brett’s grandfather secretly owned. What they find may answer the questions about Brett’s bloodline, but begs the question, “Will they survive?”
As an indie horror flick, this film adds challenges to its challenges. How can it be harder to bring the idea of Indian curses back to haunt an audience? By not having all the money of a major film studio to support it. Still, the cast and crew did a superb job in weaving together a story that was foreboding and mysterious, with a slow-burn that really kicks at the climax.
I’m not sure if it was done purposefully, but Bloodline even had a hint of hilariousness that had nothing to do with the obligatory funny fat guy, Davy (played by Christopher Frontiero.) While rummaging through Brett’s attic, Kevin the mouth, chunky Davy, and Brett find a map and a key when Davy breaks a picture frame, setting the whole horrific adventure into motion. It’s a scene lifted out of The Goonies, except the guys are missing an Asian guy with an arsenal of gadgets strapped to his body. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just surprising.
If there was one thing Bloodline should have improved on, it was the back-story on the curse. Even if it was just a misplaced journal in the cabin, it would have been interesting to get the full idea of who Brett’s ancestors were, and how the curse seemed to follow the family. It would have separated the movie from being yet another horror flick about demon spirits in the woods like Evil Dead.