On the anniversary of their grandmother’s death, four cousins decide to get together in order to pay respects at her grave. The road trip is plagued by a dark cloud that hangs over the head of the cousins that’s brought on by the family dark past. A past that’s been hidden from the cousins until now.
I live in the city of San Antonio (Texas) and one of the disappointing aspects about the city is that the filmmaking community is a little dry. There are productions here and there; such as the movie that was recently released by Wild Eye, “The Fetish Set” (“A Darker Fifty Shades: The Fetish Set”), was a local production. More often than not though, productions tend to end up in Austin or one of the larger cities. For that reason, it was a fun surprise receiving an email about “Blood Cousins” — a local film that was produced by the San Antonio comedy troupe Comedia A Go-Go.
Since I don’t get out much — because going outside would mean having to interact with people — I wasn’t familiar with Comedia A Go-Go or any of the people involved. So watching “Blood Cousins” became a fun viewing experience, if anything, just for the amount local flavor it provided.
Cousins Ray, Stevie, Von, and Eric decide to get together for a road trip in order to pay respects to their grandmother on the anniversary of her death. A seemingly innocent and thoughtful idea that’s clouded by a dark secret amongst the family that’s been kept from the four cousins. When they decided to spend the night with other members of their extended family, the horrible truth about witchcraft and Mexican folklore, is finally reveled.
I’ll admit that I did have some presumptions going into “Blood Cousins” in that I was almost expecting something similar to “Club Dread” from Broken Lizard. A horror-comedy movie that’s more comedy than horror, which is what I got, to an extent, but I didn’t expect there to be as little horror as there was.
I would say “Blood Cousins” is actually a dark-comedy more so than anything else. The focus of the movie is more on the relationship between our characters, who are composed of the Comedia A Go-Go members; Ray (Regan Arevalos), Stevie (Joel Settles), Von (Larry Garza), and Eric (Jess Castro). It’s ultimately what makes the movie work because these men obviously do have a real relationship with one another and it comes across in the movie, allowing it to have a more natural feel. It also helps with the comedy because none of the humor felt forced when they interact with each other. It can be a bit hit-n-miss when it comes to their interactions with other characters, but again, the focus is on these four characters, which is who we spend most of the runtime with, and it works.
Now while the comedy dynamic between our lead characters is what carries the movie, and even though I said the horror is light, the horror element that is there is done well enough. “Blood Cousins” is an incredibly slow burn; it opens up with a woman, who is essentially a witch, being promised a child by another who is need of help. After which we cut to modern times, and while we don’t know who that kid was or how the four character relate to that part of the story, we simply know that they do. With that, it creates a feeling of anticipation that hangs in the air during the movie and that anticipation creates tension. Because you’re waiting for the reveal of how these two stories connect and how its going to affect this seemingly innocent road trip. Yet, because 3/4 of the movie is comedic, it’s satisfying when we hit that last quarter and the movie finally boils over with an inevitable dark turn.
“Blood Cousins” works because the people behind the movie knew what should be the primary focus of the movie by what would be most enjoyable for the audience, and that’s the relationship between the actors and their respective characters. They also knew to give the movie a little extra kick by adding that darker horror element to it. Had this been a simple road-trip movie, it probably would have been a forgettable low-budget comedy. Instead you have a road trip movie with a dark twist that’s supported, largely, by the comedic ability of the actors.