Bloody Ballet never gets on its feet


Bloody Ballet, previously known as Fantasma, hits VOD on Tuesday, November 13. It’s billed as one of the most unique horror films of the year. It’s different, for sure. But, this is a chopped up, confusing misfire.

Bloody Ballet has opening credits that are out of sequence. They’re in at least 3 different fonts. They scroll through several different backdrops that appear to have no connection.

All of that led me to believe that the movie itself would be fragmented. And that’s great. I’m up for a challenge. But this movie morphs from scene to scene.

We’re given puzzle pieces up to the last few moments. The movie never tries to put them together visually.

Bloody Ballet was directed by Brett Mullen (Maid to Order). He also serves as the film’s editor, as the co-writer with Matt Cloude (Night of the Living Dead: Genesis), and as the first director of photography.

The second director of photography is Tony M. Collins (Maid to Order). It is clear from the start that there are at least two visual perspectives at play. One is a more straight forward, harsh-bright look. The other is drowned-out in a neon pink & blue wash.

There is the memorable opening shot of a young child in the silhouette of headlights while snow is gently falling. It is one of the best we see in the film.

Someone Mention Ballet?

For a film entitled Bloody Ballet there isn’t a lot of dancing going on. I wasn’t expecting  it to be  another Black Swan . But, there’s never a performance. There’s never even a rehearsal.

There’s one brief moment where the main character, Adriana (Kendra Carelli), dances by herself in an empty theater. And that’s one of the better moments early on.

I really enjoyed Carelli’s performance throughout the film. She plays her character honestly and with emotion, even when the script is weird and makes bad choices. She’s the best part of the movie.

Back to the film. Adriana dances with a version of herself that she’s envisioning on stage. The doppelganger is a little more intense and technically focused. Adriana is dancing for the joy of it.

The two versions of Adriana converge. There are clearly going to be two sides of Adriana. That was a nice way to set that up.

Unfortunately, we never get another moment like that again.

Bloody Ballet-Kendra Carelli-Courtesy of High Octane Pictures

The tagline let’s us know that Adriana has landed the lead role in the upcoming Nutcracker performance. That forces her to face her demons as jealousy and tension begin to provoke the supernatural.

Adriana tells her best friend at the ballet, Berna (Katie Carpenter), that she’s landed the role. We never see the competition or reaction from the other dancers. That would have been nice.

Berna is a supportive friend and she’s happy for Adriana. That was a missed opportunity for tension, as well.

Adriana and Berna commiserate over the head dancing instructor, Ms. Valli (Caroline Williams). They lament her cruelty and drill sergeant approach to ballet. Again, we never see that.

We don’t see a lot of Caroline Williams at all.  However, when Ms. Valli is on screen, she appears to be genuinely concerned about her dancers well being.

When Adriana is speaking with her therapist, Dr. Carlina Cassinelli, (Debbie Rochon), she is exasperated. She’s in deep emotional turmoil. But, it can’t be from the ballet. I can buy that being the lead in anything is pressure, but Adriana seems to have a support system.

We learn that Adriana is the young girl from the opening shot of the film. We also learn that her parents had their eyes gauged out while they were being murdered and posed at the kitchen table.

Finally, we have some kind of drama or conflict to deal with for Adriana. But, again, this is never built on.

Bloody Asylum

Instead of building tension with Adriana’s character, we find out she’s dead. What we’re watching is in the past. If you’re confused, don’t feel bad. So was I.

Sure. Hiding an alternate timeline seems like a sexy move. But it would have worked better if the characters from the alternate timelines never interacted at all.

They both could have had a common goal. The reveal would have been that we were watching a problem being solved in two different eras.

But, nope. We meet McCabe (Rob Springer). He’s doing research in an asylum. Through some straight forward, point blank exposition, we learn that the asylum is haunted by people who’ve died there.

McCabe is warned to not talk to the children or they will follow him home. Spooky. He is doing this research because he’s already being haunted by some mysterious dancer, who happens to be Adriana.

This storyline is pointless. Yet, the rules and environment are way more defined than the ballet ever is.

Man Up

Most of the kills in Bloody Ballet happen just off screen.

Bloody Ballet-Kendra Carelli-Courtesy of High Octane Pictures

One ballerina gets her throat cut on screen. Fake blood falls out of the application. It doesn’t gush. It just…falls. We are told later that her eyes are removed.

Another ballerina is killed off screen. That’s a jolt. One frame she’s being chased. The next frame her face has been badly mutilated.

Her eyes are gone. She’s posed at a table just like Adriana’s parents were.

So, is Adriana the killer? Is Is her motive to kill off her competition? Isn’t she a victim that’s haunting a reporter man?

In the movie’s only moment of true gore, we find out that Adriana is, kind of, the killer. There is a strange man (Shane Terry) that applies makeup before putting a mask over it. He stalks his victims with wide eyes and a sharp razor.

Adriana is being comforted by Berna when she starts to have an Alien chest burster moment. She’s begging Berna to run, but she doesn’t. In the only real homage to Suspiria, Adriana’s chest cavity opens to allow the masked killer to fall out of her. She literally lets her inner demon out.

Yet, she is the one to kill Berna. She leans over her best friend’s corpse and cuts out her left eye. It’s delightfully gory and reminded me of that scene in Taking Lives where Ethan Hawke cuts his mom’s (Gena Rowland) head off in an elevator and stares at it.

What the Hell is Happening

The climatic scene sees Adriana in a warehouse fully dressed as a nutracker ballerina. She’s trying to avoid killing Dr. Cassinelli, who is trying to help her. The other ghosts from the aslyum show up and start stalking the two.

Why, though? Did Adriana talk to one of these ghosts? Is she being haunted?

Bloody Ballet-Kendra Carelli-Courtesy of High Octane Pictures

Adriana yells and windows break. The falling glass kills Dr. Cassinelli off screen. We see Adriana cradling her body which has been impaled by glass. She tells the ghosts to just take her away.

As the ghosts close in, McCabe walks into the warehouse. At the moment he would converge with Adriana being devoured by ghosts, he finds her mummified corpse in a corner.

An exceedingly long voiceover by the newly dead Adriana explains that she killed her parents. She had stopped killing until the pressure and competition of the ballet brought her inner demon out to kill.

Look, there are major differences in the cast listings for Bloody Ballet and Fantasma. Perhaps this highly edited version cuts out most of the competition and tension build up that may have existed in a previous version of the film. That, along with logic, are sorely missed.

Next. Suspiria: Mesmerizing avant-garde film honoring Argento’s original. dark

The original Suspiria didn’t always pay attention to plot or character growth, but at least it was scary. This movie is not. The actors, especially Carelli, do their best. But Bloody Ballerina misses the mark.

Do you plan to stream Bloody Ballet? Let’s discuss in the comments!