The horror anthology was a staple of the past, with titles like “Trilogy of Terror,” “Tales from the Crypt” and “Creepshow,” movies rooted in the mini-scares provided by Eerie or Creepy magazine. Hulu reaches for that with “Books of Blood,” based on the work of horror author Clive Barker, and delivers a pretty lifeless affair, even by the gory standards of the genre.
The movie arrives with a lot of other just-in-time-for-Halloween streaming fare, including “Hubie Halloween,” Netflix’s latest vehicle for Adam Sandler, which wasn’t made available for review. (Apparently, sometimes the less subscribers know, the better.)
After a slow start, “Books of Blood” generally lives up (or down) to its title, but the three sort-of interconnected stories don’t add much to much, with the opening sequence – about hoods looking for a mysterious book – essentially bookending a pair of distinct yarns.
The first story involves a troubled young woman (Britt Robertson) who leaves her parents’ wealthy home, and runs into a whole heap of trouble.
The second, more compelling, deals with a professor (Anna Friel) who lost her young son to leukemia, before meeting a man (Rafi Gavron) who claims to be able to speak to the dead, and proceeds to demonstrate his psychic gift – rousing spirits in a clinical setting – in order to win her over.
Directed by Brannon Braga (a veteran writer of “Star Trek” spinoffs and other science fiction, making his theatrical debut), the film was produced by Seth MacFarlane’s company, and joins a long list of Barker movie adaptations – he’s among those horror writers who have essentially carved out their own brand – including various incarnations of “Hellraiser” and “Candyman.”
The main problem is there’s a whole lot of scary out there this time of year, and “Books of Blood” winds up in a sort-of creative no-man’s land. Even for undemanding souls, this is a pretty skeletal construct.
Of course, the sheer glut of Halloween content makes it difficult for new titles to stand out, and Hulu is seeking tap into that audience with several original projects, using the label “Huluween” as an amusing of fairly obvious umbrella.
“There is a place where these horrors are transcribed by the dead,” the narration says ominously at the outset. “And they want their stories told.”
“Books of Blood” would have done everyone a favor, living or dead, if they’d told them a bit better than this.
“Books of Blood” premieres Oct. 7 on Hulu.