Blessid: Damned, by Sarah Brinks
I kept thinking, “What is this movie?” as I watched Blessid. After the film finished, the refrain changed to: “What was that movie?” Blessid has a tonal problem. It is listed on IMDb as a “drama”, which is ambiguous enough to allow for it also being a science fiction thriller, but it lacks commitment to any of what it attempts. I think the potential for a really good, soft sci-fi film is there in the framework, but it misses in the execution. If it had committed to soft science fiction, which in my opinion is the most interesting genre that the film attempts, it could have been comparable to other successful low-budget sci-fi films like Another Earth, Frequencies, or One & Two. Unfortunately, Blessid ends up an irritating, messy film that attempts cleverness and achieves mediocrity.
Blessid is about a married couple who are expecting their first baby. Sarah (Rachel Kerbs), the mother, suffers from preeclampsia in her third trimester and is prescribed bedrest. At the same time, a new neighbor moves in across the street and sparks Sarah’s interest. Her marriage to Edward (Gene Silvers) is unhappy to say the least. She is mopey and terse; he is selfish and insensitive. Both of them cheat on the other and don’t seem to like one another very much. The audience is similarly inclined. Sarah also doesn’t really seem to want her baby, and remains haunted by guilty feelings related to her younger sister Tracey’s death when they were just children. Enter Jedidiah Cross (Rick Montgomery Jr.), the new neighbor. He presents an alluring mystery, and when Sarah interacts with him she is at her best. He gardens and keeps to himself except when she inserts herself into his life. He looks out for her and saves her life a number of times when she sleep walks. And then she discovers a book of photos that proves that Cross is a nearly-3,000-year-old immortal.
This reveal comes out of nowhere and never really pays off. Montgomery is the highlight of the film, delivering difficult dialogue believably and bringing both gravity and gentleness to Cross. He also has the benefit of being the one likable character in the film. Kerbs has the difficult task of playing someone who is depressed and deeply unhappy. So she mostly just sits around and looks sad, which ultimately makes her performance flat and boring to watch. Kerbs comes to life a bit when playing off Montgomery Jr.; their chemistry breathes some much-needed life into the film. Silvers also struggles to be natural in front of the camera or deliver dialogue believably. His unconvincing acting is only topped by Chris Divecchio as Sarah’s ex-lover Evan. Evan is angry. That is the only emotion we ever see him play. He varies in his levels of anger a little, but mostly he is at an eleven the entire film, and the script is so thin we never really understand why is so mad or why he wants Sarah back so badly when he only ever treats her like garbage. He also graduates from weird stalker to cat murder to attempted rapist/murder in the blink of an eye.
Blessid could have been a compelling drama about a dysfunctional family or an interesting science fiction story about a world where immortals walk among us or a thriller about an ex-boyfriend seeking validation/revenge but instead the film ends up as an unsatisfying combination of the three. Writer Robert Heske missed with his first feature length effort and director Rob Fitz could not save it in production. There were too many flashbacks and not enough context to make character actions and motivations logical. To be fair the film, looks good and is well-shot despite the issues with dialogue and plot. I think Fitz is a capable director who needs better material to direct. Overall I was very confused and irritated with the film. The soundtrack only adds to the confusion by being tonally out of synch with the scenes it scores. Blessid can best be described as a hot mess that occasionally touches on an interesting idea but never reaches its potential.