Groundhog Day and Triangle meets Breaking Bad

by Nav Qateel

Highly intelligent chemist Milton (Milo Cawthorne), is persuaded by tough femme fatale Skyler (Olivia Tennet) to cook 85lbs of crystal meth for her psycho boyfriend Russell (Ari Boyland). The group go out to a hunting lodge to cook the meth, where a double-crossing Russell spills blood, triggering an ancient Indian curse that has them trapped, repeating the same blood-soaked day over and over. Can Milton use his intellect to get the girl, sell the meth and escape the never ending cycle of bloodletting, or are they destined to repeat the same day forever?

Every so often a film comes along that blows your mind with its whip-smart writing, fantastic acting, and clever directing. Madellaine Paxson’s directorial debut Blood Punch was all those things and much more, thanks to Daytime Emmy Nominated scriptwriter Eddie Guzelian’s injection of dark comedy and mind-bending attention to detail. Most of the comedic dialog was uttered by the smart-mouthed, match-striking Skyler, which helped set this film head and shoulders above others in its class. One also gets the feeling the script was written specifically for this cast, as they worked together so perfectly. This is an educated guess, based on the fact that everyone has worked together many times before. Director Madellaine Paxson is a native of New Zealand, as are most of the cast, although the film itself is set in the US.

Blood Punch
Directed by
Madellaine Paxson
Milo Cawthorne, Olivia Tennet, Ari Boyland
Release Date
1 September 2015
Nav’s Grade: A

We open on Milton waking up with a stinker of a hangover, and after he finishes vomiting into the toilet, he sees a note with “Play Me Now” on it, attached to a small video player. What he watches defies logic, as he witnesses someone that’s clearly him, only he can’t remember ever making the video. When Milton sees his other self chopping off two of his fingers with a meat cleaver, he’s suddenly in shock but paying full attention to the story he’s about to hear. And this is where we pick up the tale of a love triangle, drugs, murder, betrayal, and an Indian curse.

Olivia Tennet’s character, Skyler, is extremely complex, yet at the same time very simple and single-minded. Although we’re witness to her appearing to change her mind frequently, we can always see the gears turning away in her head, but the outcome was always clear in our minds … and in Milton’s. Skyler also has this cool way of striking a match with her thumb, to light the neverending supply of cigarettes. Of course, repeating the same day over means never running out. A little bit of research into Olivia Tennet led me to realize I was very familiar with the actress as I’ve watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy countless times. In The Two Towers, Tennet played Freda, the little girl who, with her brother, rode the horse from Rohan to Erebor.

Milo Cawthorne’s character Milton is clearly a sucker for a pretty face. He allows himself to be talked into cooking meth by the attractive Skyler. And even though Milton is in rehab at the time and knows he’s about to be busted out by Skyler’s crazy boyfriend, he walks into it with his eyes wide open. But as time passes at the cabin, Milton begins to gain confidence and grow as a person. Milton has gone from being a geek trying to rid himself of a drug problem, to being a stone cold killer with a crush on the wrong girl.

Last, but certainly not least, is Ari Boyland as the psychotic Russell. Russell eventually becomes more of a prop that’s killed in every way imaginable, but thanks to Boyland’s utterly convincing portrayal of the dangerous whackjob, Russell remains just as prominent as his two costars. It really is no surprise that these actors have worked together many times, as it shows in their exemplary performances. The supporting cast also do some great work, with each of them getting a chance to shine brightly.

The closest film I can think of to Blood Punch is the Melissa George starrer Triangle, a horror in a very similar mold to this one, only that was set on a ship in the Atlantic. If this review seems a bit light on details, that’s quite deliberate. The trailer already gives too much away, without me adding any more spoilers. In fact, if you haven’t seen the trailer yet, don’t bother. Just watch and be amazed.

From top to bottom, Madellaine Paxson’s indie horror is a winner in every department, and also the best low-budget film I’ve seen this year. For fans of the genre, Blood Punch is the must-see film of 2015.