The best movies start with a great script, and the story and dialogue of Blood On Her Name are superb, particularly, the shocking but masterfully crafted ending by director/co-writer Matthew Pope. From its acting performances, to its musical score, to its American gothic aesthetic, Blood On Her Name is one of the best indie movies I have seen in quite a while. With themes of consequence, family, and the depths of parental love, this film is a rural noir crime thriller that forces you to examine the moral implications it presents and choose a side of right or wrong.
Blood On Her Name has a quiet but intense atmosphere as protagonist Leigh Tiller (Bethany Anne Lind) deals with the aftermath of an accidental murder. The film was beautifully shot with the help of Director of Photography Matthew Rogers, who, along with director Matthew Pope, captured poignant flashbacks from Leigh’s childhood that added a psychological layer to an already emotionally charged film. At the heart of Blood On Her Name is a family drama, from Leigh’s childhood with her father to the ripple effects that cause her to repeat his mistakes and affect the relationship with her son. As the movie explores these relationships, surrounding them is the plot of murder, as Leigh’s decisions causes their lives to become perilously out of control, making for an exciting, dramatic, and heartwrenching story.
Leigh struggles to keep her auto shop and family afloat after her husband is sent to jail for running cars. One night, one of her husband’s old associates comes to her shop to discuss business, however, after a fight ensues he winds up dead. Deciding not to call the local sheriff, Richard (Will Patton), who happens to be her estranged father, Leigh instead cleans up the crime scene and stashes the intruder’s car and dead body at her home. This decision throws Leigh into an emotional turmoil, as she struggles to keep her secret from her father, her son Ryan (Jared Ivers), and the murdered man’s family. Eventually, everyone finds out her crime, causing an inescapable feud between the families.
I cannot find a flaw in any of the actors’ performances, each one of them was convincing and compelling as players swept up in a wave of increasingly unfortunate decisions. Bethany Anne Lind as Leigh Tiller brilliantly captured the emotional toll of secrets — some handed down from her father, and some handed off to her son. Veteran actor Will Patton as father, Richard Tiller, was another standout performance, whose mix of love and tragic estrangement are inevitably what cause the apples to not fall far from the family tree. And goddamn, does the score deliver in the last 10 minutes of the movie; at first, it gently interrupts the relative silence of the rest of the film, and as the final chain of events is set off it crescendos into a heart-pounding, atmospheric tone reminiscent of burial drums that beautifully segues into pensive violin score for the sorrowful ending.
When you think of crime, you may think of a gritty city, but Matthew Pope and Don M. Thompson take Blood On Her Name and set this crime-thriller in the quiet, rural, outback of America. The film feels like a slow-burner, but at the same time, it is exciting to see the seemingly mundane life of Leigh interrupted by the mortal danger of an accidental death that then turns into an old-fashioned, but modern, souther family feud — I am reminded of the Hatfields and the Mccoys, as well as The Tell-Tale Heart. This southern gothic feature is on the 2020 Panic Fest lineup, and it is an excellent watch for anyone craving a fresh crime thriller, or just a plain old good movie.
Adrienne Reese is a fan of movies - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and came to the horror genre by way of getting over her fear of... everything. Adrienne also writes for the Frida Cinema, and in addition to film enjoys cooking, Minesweeper, and binge-watching Game of Thrones.