Blood Relatives [DVD]
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15-year-old Patricia (Aude Landry) is walking the streets with her older cousin, Muriel (Lisa Langlois) when they are attacked by a violent rapist, and Muriel is killed. The police's Inspector Carella (Donald Sutherland) believes serial sex offender Doniac (Donald Pleasence) to be responsible, but Patricia fails to identify him. However, when Patricia's brother, Andrew (Laurent Malet), breaks down at Muriel's funeral, the case takes a surprising turn.
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What begins as a super-sleazy whodunnit (featuring the most chilling role Donald Pleasance has ever played as one of the murder suspects) switches midway through to a compelling study of teenage longings for forbidden fruit.
Donald Sutherland gives a measured yet always watchable performance as the cop investigating the case, Lisa Langlois is overpoweringly beautiful in the flashback scenes as the victim, and David Hemmings adds further weight and cool as her boss.
There are no extras on the disk, but it's dirt cheap and if you're a fan of thrillers or French cinema then this is well worth the asking price.
Also, please check on an Order which I placed in mid- march, titled "When a Srranger Calls". I haven't received it yet. It's long overdue. Pls let me know by email.
The structure does the film no favours either: the first half is dedicated to Donald Sutherland's cop trying to solve the murder of a young girl, but the second half switches to the story of the victim's last few days as he reads her diary. With no serious attempt to integrate the two strands it just feels like you're watching two different movies. There is one beautifully observed moment (or rather unobserved, since it happens when Sutherland is looking away) when an underage girl groomed by Donald Pleasance's pedo finds it painful to sit down on a wooden chair, but for the most part this feels just as bland as most 70s Canadian films. Two-and-a-half stars for effort, but it's little surprise that Chabrol stuck to France and what he does best in future films.
Picture quality is unexceptional but acceptable with no extra features.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The production values here are what you'd expect of a university film student's first attempt.
Aside from Sutherland, the rest of the cast deliver their lines as though they were extras randomly plucked from the streets of Montreal, where this was filmed.
**SPOILERS AHEAD** The plot concerns the murder of 17-year-old Muriel Stark, who is brutally knifed to death in a dirty alleyway when her and her 15-year-old cousin Patricia are on their way home from a party. Patricia suffers some knife wounds but ultimately escapes and runs to the police station.
Things get murky for detective Sutherland when Patricia identifies a police decoy in the lineup as the attacker. Then, at Muriel's funeral, Patricia's brother Andrew (who inexplicably is the only family member to speak with an English accent), dramatically throws himself on the casket sobbing, after which Patricia tells Sutherland Andrew committed the murder.
Patricia's mother overacts ridiculously; there is a boring red-herring subplot about a pedophile suspect, and tons more bad acting before things get a tad more interesting in the final half-hour.
We learn that Muriel kept a diary and when Sutherland finds it a trash can down the block from Patricia's house the flashbacks kick in indicating the serious incestuous relationship that was blossoming between Muriel and her cousin Andrew.
When Sutherland recognizes that dialogue from the diary are the exact words Patricia claimed the killer uttered to Muriel right before her death, the jig is up and he confronts the girl, who ultimately goes into hysterics revealing herself to be Muriel's actual killer.
The only good thing I can say to recommend this mess is that it is definitely a product of its time, with the dated hairstyles and fashions being good for a laugh, and it is a mercifully short film, clocking in at 95 minutes.