Black Bread begins with a familiar scene: a man leads his horse and cart through a darkened wood, glancing around with unease at the various forest sounds which break the tense silence. A fairy-tale quality hangs over the scene, the images framed in wide angles and brought to life with rich autumnal hues; perhaps this will be a fantasy parable. When an assailant attacks the traveller, binds him in the cart, and leads the now-blindfolded horse to the cliff’s edge, brutally smashing it in the face with a sledge hammer, our stomachs concomitantly fold alongside the illusion that this will be anything but sickeningly real.
Owing primarily to the contemporary Hollywood paradigm, any film which demonstrates a particularly large quantity of bloodshed is automatically branded with that most unsavoury of appellations: “torture porn”. Martyrs, Pascal Laugier’s 2008 French horror film, is no stranger to this label, its brutality immediately motivating its critics to set it among the ranks of these films largely dismissed as tasteless, tactless, and tawdry satiations of modern audiences’ violent voyeurism.
In Scott Stewart’s futuristic western horror, Priest, humans and vampires have been at war with each other for ages. This sustained combat had consumed the Earth; leaving regions uninhabitable. In response to the growing vampire threat, the Church had established a secret society of ‘Priests’ to fend off the vampires and end the bloodshed. Touched by God, these ‘Priests’ were an outfit of elite warriors who used their superior skills and weapons to defeat the vampires, bringing an end to the brutal conflict.
No sappy high school romances; no shirtless Taylor Lautner; and definitely no sparkles are to be found in this refreshing, made-for-adults modern day vampire tale. Zak Kilberg stars as Jacob, a young man with a rare skin disorder making him extremely sensitive to sunlight.