“Vintage Blood” (2015): Shop Owner Faces Ouija Board Terror in Delightful, Devilish Horror-Comedy Short



UK horror comedy short Vintage Blood absolutely crackles with verve, energy, and originality. Writer/director/star Abigail Blackmore has created a film that is equally amusing and chilling. Black humor is in strong supply here, as are engaging characters.

Liv (Abigail Blackmore) takes her sarcastic, wisecracking friend Charlotte (Ruth Syrrat) on a tour through the former’s new house. When the two go outside for a glass of wine and some more chat, Charlotte notices that “EVIL” is painted on a shuttered vintage-clothing shop front across the street. Liv gives her the scoop on how the shops’ owner Izzy (Indira Varma) allegedly fell victim to supernatural forces because of a ouija board, and had to make some life or death choices concerning her boyfriend Jack (Finlay Robertson). I’ll refrain from discussing things any further because the details of the story are part of the many delights of this fun short film.

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Charlotte (Ruth Syrrat; left) isn’t exactly enamored with her friend Liv’s (Abigail Blackmore) new flat, but the story that Liv will tell her will trouble her far worse in Vintage Blood.

Abigail Blackmore’s dialogue is often rapid-fire, as is her editing for some sight gags. Viewers immediately get the feeling that Liv and Charlotte have shared a long-term friendship in which caustic humor is par for the course and totally acceptable. Their banter is full of dry wit, while Liv’s narration of Izzy’s plight has an eerie charm to it. Several different styles of verbal and visual humor styles are at play here, from slapstick to scatalogical jokes to higher-brow stuff,  and somehow Blackmore manages to balance them all. Though the film moves along at a steady clip, one of my favorite gags involves some slowing down of action while Liv and Charlotte take a short break from the storytelling.

An even more difficult balancing act is keeping humor and horror in agreeable portions, and again, Abigail Blackmore pulls this feat off to great effect. Though the emphasis does skew more toward comedy, the two elements interweave seamlessly throughout Vintage Blood, and the short boasts at least one heart-tugging moment, as well.

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Shopkeeper Izzy (Indira Varma; right) receives troubling information about ouija boards from customer Helen (Tracy Whitwell).

The performances are of the highest caliber. Indira Varma is sensational in her role as shopkeeper Izzy, running through a wide variety of emotions, from frazzled moth chaser to elated new fiancee, to confused and frightened victim, and beyond. She is a marvel to behold each moment that she is on the screen.

Abigail Blackmore and Ruth Syrrat (the real-life owner of the shop that is the main location for Vintage Blood) as friends Liv and Charlotte anchor the short and provide some of its hilarious and most startling moments. Syrrat is a first-time actor but I certainly would not have guessed that because she absolutely nails her performance here. Blackmore is an experienced actor and improvisor and her skills are on fine, wry display. Tracy Whitwell is super in a funny role as customer Helen, whose knowledge of the occult mysteriously seems to be enhanced inside the shop. Sophie Thompson is amusing as Margaret, a customer who brings trouble to Izzy’s shop. Michael Rosen is a joy to watch as Andy, Izzy’s good-humored neighbor. Finlay Robertson is solid as Jack, Izzy’s boyfriend.

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Izzy’s odd actions are not looked on favorably by those who witness them.

Abigail Blackmore winningly pulls off her cinematic vision, starting with her smart, witty screenplay and rounding things out with her deft direction, striking editing, and impressive performance. I’m thrilled to hear that she is currently at work on helming and writing a feature-length horror-comedy portmanteau called Tales from the Lodge. Iona Farouzabadi’s cinematography, Warren Bennett’s score, and Joe Wilkinson’s sound design all add to the sometimes upbeat, sometimes  eerie proceedings in Vintage Blood.

Having finished a successful, award-winning film festival run, Vintage Blood will be available to watch online starting May 30 at 12:00 p.m. GMT. Check out Abigailblackmore.com for further details. Mark your calendars because you won’t want to miss this terrific short film.

Vintage Blood: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.