By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
To be completely honest and transparent, I feel the need to preface this review. I have known the film’s writer/director, Daniel Tucker, for several years now. He is a good friend and overall great person. Before pursuing a career as a filmmaker, Daniel used to review movies like I do. We met several years back at SXSW and have been friends ever since.
When I first heard he was making this movie, I was both excited and nervous. I was excited because Daniel chose to pursue his dream, but nervous because I wasn’t sure if I could review his movie. Well, Daniel reached out to me recently and shared the fruits of his mind, heart and labor. I proceeded to watch his work with a critical mind and decided that if I didn’t like it, I would refuse to write a public review. As one can already tell, that is not at all the case. I couldn’t be any prouder of Daniel Tucker right now and I can honestly say that he has made a great movie.
Nothing But The Blood tells the story of journalist Jessica (Rachel Hudson), a small town reporter assigned to investigate a new controversial church that has opened in her town. After a strange and bizarre interview with the head pastor’s son Michael (Nick Triola), it becomes pretty clear that the intentions of the church and its leaders are unhealthy for the community. After Jessica meets Michael’s more level-headed and likable brother Thomas (Jordan O’Neal), the two kindred spirits connect and begin a romantic relationship with long-term potential. However, this new development does not sit at all well with Thomas’s father (Les Best) and the rest of the church. As Jessica and Thomas plan a future together, Thomas’s ties with the church prove to be toxic for any future plans they have.
With Nothing But The Blood, Daniel Tucker has made a tremendous film. As writer, Tucker has developed a gripping and powerful story with both compelling protagonists and frightening antagonists. The movie starts off as a drama that burns slowly into an explosive horror film. The story serves as a critical commentary on toxic religions and the hypocrisy on which these types of groups rely to thrive. It is an intelligent and nuanced commentary that holds these realistic villains accountable for their evil deeds.
As a director, Tucker shows some impressive skills. Working with cinematographer Henry Ceiro, Tucker has made a great looking piece with some impressively framed shots and some gorgeous uses of color and lighting. Tucker, who also edited the movie, does well enough. However, some transitions don’t flow quite as smoothly as they could. This is a bit of a nitpick on my part, given how well everything else works, but it is something I couldn’t help, but notice.
As far as the cast is concerned, I was definitely impressed with this group of lesser-known talents. As the protagonist Jessica, Rachel Hudson shows an impressive range here. As her paramour Thomas, Jordan O’Neal is no slouch at all, exuding much charisma. As Thomas’s neurotic and temperamental brother Michael, Nick Triola gives a credibly conflicted performance with the necessary nuiance for his character.
Other great performances include Vivian Glazier, Jordan Hancock, April Hartman, and Austin Lynn Hall who stars as the particularly hateful and villainous Seth. The true standout performance comes from Les Best who stars as the leader of the church and parent to both Michael and Thomas. As “Father,” Best gives an amazing turn that ranges from subtle creepiness to more overtly disturbing passion for his unwavering beliefs. He goes to a frightening place that incredibly mixes charisma and rage, which is absolutely perfect for what his character represents.
So as far as indie horror features go, Nothing But The Blood is a remarkable accomplishment for Daniel Tucker. From conception to execution, this new film deserves to make a big splash with audiences who enjoy dramatic horror with social commentary. And I am honestly not just saying this because the filmmaker is a friend. Nothing But The Blood will have a theatrical run in San Antonio at the Santikos Casa Blanca theater starting July 31, 2020 and will be available for streaming and VOD on August 4, 2020. It is a movie I highly recommend.