Leigh Tiller has killed a man. He’s sprawled across the floor at her auto-repair workshop, the blood runs a deep colour of red. Leigh must do away with the body, but her conscience is telling her differently. With the importance of family on her mind, Leigh ensures that the man’s loved ones are made aware of his grizzly demise, which in turns leads to insurmountable consequences for the young mother of one.
Blood on Her Name marks the first feature film from director, Matthew Pope. It’s a minimal production that undertakes a raw human story culminating in an effective character driven piece. Pope begins the film with a gut punch of an opening scene. We first meet Leigh in the aftermath of her brutally slaying a man, witnessing her faced with grave consequences, this introduces both a complex and compelling dynamic to the piece as we are invited to view how this intensified situation will play out.
Focusing on the aftermath of the murder is an interesting storytelling tactic, which immediately states that this film’s priority is the psychological impact following the fatal attack over screening gratuitous violence.
As the film progresses, we discover more about Leigh’s troubled background, notably her tumultuous relationship with her corrupt cop father, Richard (Will Patton), the main driving force of the narrative. Bethany Anne Lind is an absolute powerhouse in the lead role of Leigh, delivering an outstanding performance and bringing in a multitude of layers to her character. Leigh is the put-upon single parent who’s trying to keep it all together for her delinquent teenage son but at the same time we know she has committed a heinous crime, that she confidently justifies. Seeing her unravel throughout the film is somewhat heart-breaking as her actions are a knee-jerk reaction to both her upbringing and the environment, she became entangled in. Leigh comes across as lost and lonely which is demonstrated flawlessly within Lind’s performance.
Holding his own next to Lind is Will Patton as her manipulative father. Patton plays Richard as a man with a huge chip on his shoulder. The brewing conflict generated between the two characters makes for some tense scenes that build up throughout the film, specifically Leigh’s fear of the influence her father begins to possess over her son.
Blood on Her Name harbours a melancholic tone, creating a sombre mood piece. It features a grey colour palette further magnifying the downbeat nature of the film and its sense of bleakness. It is a slow-burn and moves along at a naturalistic pace with its authentic ‘slice of life’ style of storytelling. Despite the gradual pacing, the film remains engaging as its never predictable on where it will head next. Each character holds a sense of unpredictability about them, ramping up the suspense.
Blood on Her Name is a strong, character driven drama about learning to survive with an understated central performance from Lind. It is both an effective and accomplished effort for a first feature film on a limited budget due to Pope’s confident direction and exceptional performances from its cast.