It’s a clever touch.
Blood Vessel is obviously a movie about vampires on board a ship, but the title also refers to the doomed crew’s containment effort to stop a terrible blood-borne infection.
Nutshell: A veritable United Nations of lifeboat survivors from a torpedoed hospital ship are hopelessly adrift somewhere in the water during the waning days of World War II.
There’s two Australians (Nathan Phillips, Alyssa Sutherland), a whiny British spook (John Lloyd Fillingham), a taciturn Russian (Alex Cooke), and a pair of Americans: a useful black sailor (Lydell Jackson), and a surly Italian cook (Mark Diaco) from the mean streets of Central Casting.
The improbable company hops aboard a derelict German ship and spends about 45 minutes exploring its innards, discovering burned and mutilated sailors, priceless art treasures, and an anemic child (Ruby Isobell Hall).
I realize that seems like quite a bit of action, but when spread over the entirety of the running time (a tidy 93 minutes), the pace is almost geologic.
As written and directed by Australian special effects maestro Justin Dix, Blood Vessel is mostly stuff we’ve seen before, dressing up Nazis with a dash of occult hokum for another spin around the block.
Despite a fondness for familiar tropes, Dix has his inspired moments. His depiction of a vampire clan who does most of its damage from a distance, psychically manipulating the infected sailors to do their bidding, is a fresh idea.
The hands-off approach to killing however, somewhat dilutes the impact of these powerful undead beings, though the monstrous makeup effects are terrific.
With a structural resemblance to Aliens, minus the tension, top-shelf effects, and brilliant cast, Blood Vessel is serviceable entertainment at best, which doesn’t mean there’s no fun to be had.
There’s just not enough of it.