Clive Barker is pure horror brilliance. Anyone who loves horror knows this. I devoured many of his books as a teen, and his Books of Blood series was one of my first experiences of his gory world of sin and horror. There are six volumes to immerse yourself in the vision we’ve come to know so well, and Hulu has partnered with him to continue his cinematic library based on the series.
Before Hulu came out with the 2020 version, there was a 2009 film called Book of Blood, focusing on paranormal researcher Mary and psychic medium Simon with a wrap-around story based on the short “On Jerusalem Street.” It’s a slow-paced ghost story with gore from our beloved horror daddy, who was also one of the film’s producers. Hulu’s film is similarly called Books of Blood, an original horror anthology with three stories full of pulpy dread.
Garrett (Yul Vasquez) is a ruthless thug looking for a rare book. When he gets the information he needs, he makes short work of his unfortunate informant and heads off to retrieve the tome. Jenna (Britt Robertson) is a girl with an auditory sensitivity (misophonia), and a trauma she refuses to talk about has left her with a lot of anxiety. Her mother isn’t pleased Jenna has stopped taking her medication, and in frustration, wants to send her back to a mental facility. Jenna runs away when she finds out and thinks she’s being followed. She takes refuge at a bed and breakfast run by peaceful couple Ellie and Sam (Freda Foh Shen and Nicholas Campbell). Mary (Anna Friel) is a professor and has lost her son. She is skeptical of the supernatural world, has to put her beliefs in check when she comes across Simon (Ravi Gavron), a medium who says he can talk to the dead. These three stories connect in the strangest ways, and it’s quite the ride to find out how.
I quite like Robertson, who always takes risks with her roles, be it a Christian romance or a Stephen King adaptation that goes off the rails. Here, she’s as solid as ever, with her girl-next-door looks and final girl pluck. Nicholas Campbell was a pleasant surprise, as was Shen, whose performance was one of the standouts here. Director Brannon Braga, producer of a slew of sci-fi television, and Barker as one of the executive producers, bring some new along with the old. Mary and Simon’s wrap-around story doesn’t cover new territory, but I enjoyed Jenna’s twisted tale and personal demons. There’s regret, deceit, and gruesome visuals that give Books of Blood an old school straight-to-video feel with a surprising finale.
Maybe we’ll see Books of Blood become a series since Hulu is known for some good streaming content. This addition is pulpy, fun, and the gore effects are perfect for a Friday night horror fest.