Blood on Her Name
Directed by: Matthew Pope
Run time: 85 minutes
The Lowdown: Leigh Tiller has a problem, and that problem is her conscience.
Leigh (Bethany Anne Lind) is a widowed, single mother struggling to keep her dead husband’s business afloat. But when an unexpected altercation takes a tragic turn, she suddenly finds herself scrambling to protect everything precious to her, even as she struggles to do what seems like the proper thing.
That proper thing, it turns out, sets in motion a series of events that land with precision and gut-punch ferocity in Matthew Pope’s jaw-dropping first feature film.
Pope, who also co-wrote Blood on Her Name, launches into his southern-fried thriller from the opening frame, thrusting viewers into the bloody aftermath of a deadly confrontation.
Instead of reporting what seems like an accidental death, Leigh panics and decides to cover it up. She wraps the body and drives it out to a remote lake, but can’t bring herself to take the final step and submerge it.
With a fresh corpse in her trunk, Leigh tries to assimilate. She meets with her probation officer. She goes back to work and destroys surveillance footage of the incident. Then she drives out to the dead guy’s home and sits, watching, until her father, the local sheriff, pulls in behind her.
With each decision that Leigh makes, Pope slowly pulls on the hook that has baited his audience.
Leigh eventually decides the proper course is to take the body back to the man’s home and stash it in his shed. She leaves a handwritten note in the mailbox for the guy’s wife: He’s in the shed. I’m sorry.
Then she goes out drinking and drugging, trying to erase the memory of the awful thing she’s done.
Like the best of its genre, Blood on Her Name owes a great debt to classic Coen Brothers and the early films of Jeremy Saulnier.
Each individual scene becomes its own short film, packed with detail and dripping with menace. Pope masterfully manipulates and toys with his viewers, allowing us to sympathize with Leigh even as her actions cause us to shout at the screen in shock and dismay.
We all know a Leigh. Hell, many of us have found ourselves in similar thorny straits, minus the murder and mayhem.
But Blood on Her Name takes our very worst day and ramps up that pit of your stomach feeling of freefall by piling on in an endless spiral of awful decisions that beget even worse outcomes.
This is easily one of the best films of 2020 to be released thus far.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – No.
Gore – Gun violence.
Drug use – Yes.
Bad Guys/Killers – Best laid plans that always go awry.
Buy/Rent – Buy it.
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