Family, truth, and consequences are examined in this dark and compelling thriller anchored by a gritty lead performance from Bethany Anne Lind.
The early morning light is harsh and unforgiving on Leigh as she prepares to dump a body into the lake, exposing every freckle and mark on her body and deepening the blood red cuts on her face into a dark black. Leigh wears the weary look of shock and uncertainty on her face as she rows a boat to the middle of the lake. What the hell am I doing?
A pocketed cell phone rings on the dead body (a man named Cobb), and a message notification sounds. Leigh lifts the phone to her ear to listen to the message. “Hi Dad, just wondering where you are. I see you didn’t come home last night.” Waves of nausea come over Leigh’s face and she throws up.
What do you do when you accidentally kill someone?
This begins Blood on Her Name, throwing viewers right in the middle of an intense study of a nightmare situation.
The film tackles the decisions people make in moments of panic, and the consequences that ultimately follow. Leigh does what she thinks is best, but she’s no monster, and her best leads to a situation that becomes more pressurized with each decision she makes.
And what a performance from Bethany Anne Lind as Leigh, who looks like she has the weight of 1,000 corpses on her shoulders.
The darting around and lack of focus in her eyes, the shallowness of her breathing, and the holding up of her shoulders are examples of the physical performance that Lind gives, exemplifying the toll the situation has taken on her. She grows more tired with each passing scene while her nerves get stretched to their limits, haunted by the ghosts of the dead, the dead of her own doing.
Matters become more complicated when her police officer father, Richard (an excellent and grizzled Will Patton), becomes involved. Having a past of his own, Leigh is determined not to be like her father, even though she is most certainly walking the same path, where morals take a back seat to self and family. But when Cobb’s wife, Dani (Elisabeth Rohm), comes into Leigh’s life asking about her husband, that’s when the shit hits the fan for Leigh.
Woman to woman and mother to mother, she must determine the best course of action to take.
It’s then the film becomes a gripping and complicated maze of intellectual and emotional cat and mouse.
Through all of this, Leigh tries to maintain some kind of relationship with her troubled son, Ryan (Jared Ivers). She doesn’t quite know how to be the mom she wants to, but Leigh’s determined to avoid the broken relationship with Ryan that she suffers with her own father. It’s here where Blood on Her Name truly shines, convincingly showing the complexity of people and the relationships they create and hold onto throughout their lives.
If life is said to be unpredictable and messy, then Blood on Her Name is here to make the case.
The film reveals layer after layer of family dynamics, power struggles, and consequences in unforeseen ways. Slowly ticking like the countdown of a bomb, each scene builds more tension than the last and adds more depth to the already deep hole that Leigh fins herself in.
Part Neo-noir and part Western, there may not be any truly good people in this story, but even acts of true goodness can come from bad or damaged people. Every action has consequences that construct the unpredictability and beauty of life, and Blood on Her Name is a fascinating film that brilliantly explores both.