Posted by: Peter Hall
Directed by John Harrison, 2009
Written by John Harrison & Darin Silverman
When it was first announced that THE BOOK OF BLOOD was going to be adapted into a film, I balked. Not because it is a bad story, but because it’s barely a story. THE BOOK OF BLOOD was the framing device Clive Barker used to setup his anthology series BOOKS OF BLOOD. A man goes into a reportedly haunted room, soon learns said room is at the intersection of several highways of the dead, and comes out with writing carved into every inch of his body by the wandering souls that need someone to listen to their story. Said carvings are then what the reader finds in the BOOKS OF BLOOD anthologies.
In a series packed to the hilt with wild, depraved, maddening, but most importantly, adaptable stories, why chose the 12 page introduction as the basis for a 90+ minute script? It’s a precursor of things to come in the anthology, but the film is not a precursor to more Clive Barker adaptations from the same group of people. It was an odd choice to me, but I’m relieved to say that it ended up being a good choice.
John Harrison and Darin Silverman’s script actually melds together the anthology’s two framing bookends (the other half being ON JERUSALEM STREET) into a surprisingly cohesive, totally engrossing feature length film that never indicates that its largest inspiration is only 12 pages long. In fact, the only bad part about the film is the inclusion of ON JERUSALEM STREET, which Harrison actually uses as the framing introduction for his adaptation. The problem is that its only real purpose is to play into modern horror film conventions, as if the audience needs to be told that what they’re about to see is a scary story. Chop it off, however, and BOOK OF BLOOD is actually a quite finely crafted ghost story with more than a few earnest jolts and jaw dropping moments.