For the last few years whenever anyone getting to know me asks about my interests, I direct them to Carpenter Brut’s music video for their song Turbo Killer. The aesthetic, the blaring synths, the story, it just spoke to me. So naturally, when I heard that all parties involved with Turbo Killer were now making a sequel called Blood Machines as an almost hour long film, I was in. Well, the wait was long, but let me just say right here, every millisecond was worth it.
Within the first minute of Seth Ickerman’s Blood Machines, you’ll know what you’re getting into: a vast world of colors, grime, and constant face-punching science-fiction. The film is split into three episodes, or chapters, which threw me off at first. After my first viewing though, I understood why. Blood Machines is an extremely vague world. You’re thrust into this eccentric world with very little details, but the movie trusts you to come to your own conclusions while also pounding an array of colors and visuals too. I love when stories don’t hold your hand, when they want you to connect the pieces where you want to. Ickerman’s structure in this movie does exactly that; it respects you.
For a 50-minute movie, there’s so much to unpack in the plot. We follow Vascan (Anders Heinrichsen), a blade runner, along with his co-pilot Lago (Christian Erickson) as they track a fallen foreign ship, known as the Mima, on an unknown planet. There we meet Corey (Elisa Lasowski) as she fights off Vascan to try to save the Mima. After that it’s all a massively beautiful fever dream of naked female ghosts, deep space dives, and man vs. machine.
As I mentioned earlier, the movie is vague. You aren’t handed details, and things happen that seem wild and bizarre. It’s up to the viewers to decipher what it all means. That’s not to say that there’s some super philosophical meaning behind it, because well maybe there is, but there doesn’t need to be. What Blood Machines does is what every strong piece of storytelling should do, which is drop you into a world, let you live it, breathe it, see it, and then it leaves you there to pick up on what you need. Luckily the length and pacing makes it a very easy rewatch, which you’ll probably want to do just for the visuals alone.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The movie centers around the three aforementioned characters. Each brings a unique perspective of the supernatural occurrences around them. While I do think that at times the dialogue needed to take longer beats to let the world sink in around each sentence, the sparse moments where characters speak make up for it. The characters sort of become the background as the setting is what really tells the story, and in that space, the characters do nothing but supplement what’s going on.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Carpenter Brut was born to make this soundtrack. If you’ve seen Turbo Killer, well expect that, except amplified where it needs to be and toned down in other spots. In plenty of ways this can really be seen as a 50-minute music video, and I’m totally okay with that. Moments of chase where the synths start creeping in harder and faster, then when they end they fade into long hums in the background. Though a weird word to use, the harmony in the visuals and audio make this a spectacle to view.
I can already say now, whatever I write about this won’t do it justice. Blood Machines is all about the visual landscape. It’s a neon, cosmic, hyper futuristic world where radical machines live alongside the human counterparts. The vibe for both Turbo Killer and Blood Machines has been an 80s vibe, and it sticks true throughout, at times even turning into a full on music video. I couldn’t tell you how many times I was smiling when the background changed or a cool visual popped up. This all but screamed to be watched in 4K HDR.
"...And be lost for another hour in this chaotic world where blood meets steel."
I am so incredibly happy with how Blood Machines turned out. I’ve waited years, and the radio silence at times got me worried I’d never end up seeing it. Now that it’s here, all I want to do is see more of this universe. I want nothing more than to sit in a theater with this on the highest quality film and be lost for another hour in this chaotic world where blood meets steel.