You will probably have to go a very long way to find a film as catastrophically misjudged as Blood Shot, the latest (2013) attempt by Danny Dyer to break out of his trademark screen persona: a laddish Sun-reading Cockney geezer forever shouting "Oi, you muppet!" and lamping people. He's tried sinister crime boss (in Pimp, which I confess I haven't seen and probably never will, on the grounds that I'm not a complete imbecile), he's tried tortured psychopath (in Deviation, which I have seen, because I am at least a partial imbecile), and he's tried lovable comedy bigamist (in Run For Your Wife, aka Run For The Exits), but he hasn't been able to escape his signature role of Aggressive Simpleton. And he doesn't escape it with this film either: part romance, part comedy, part splatter movie, part social commentary, total disaster.
Danny Dyer is Philip, an unassuming but blokey (and apparently very well paid) prosthetics effects sculptor for the kind of extreme splatter movies that give splatter movies a bad name. Out jogging one night, he encounters a young woman in the park screaming incoherently: he takes her home and they begin a tentative relationship. But while Jane (Zoe Grisedale) may be sexy and alluring and intoxicating, she's also screaming crazy, foaming at the mouth and shrieking rather than endearingly kooky. She has secrets and scars, he wants to help, they're falling in love. It's sort of like Brief Encounter, if Celia Johnson had been a paranoid babbling smackhead and Trevor Howard had spent all his spare time creating lifelike plastic tits in his attic.
As it goes along you start to wonder if there's actually some hidden twist somewhere: might it have something to do with psychiatrist Keith Allen, who's quite clearly only in the film because there's a scene where he gets to cavort with some scantily-clad women? But no: the big surprise plot development is that there is no surprise plot development. Dramatically it's uninteresting and has no suspense or thrills, and barely any moments where Danny at least gets a bit handy with his fists. You can also ignore the DVD cover which thoroughly misrepresents the film as some kind of slasher with a moody-looking Dyer holding a bloodied knife behind his back, in front of an artistic rendition of the London skyline. That doesn't appear in the movie and no-one gets killed.
Rather, the film develops an unsubtle and frankly insulting line in social commentary as it posits the idea that hardcore splatter movies are only for the emotionally immature and psychologically stunted. "If you'd ever experienced real violence you wouldn't deal in these fantasies of violence," Jane declares in one of her less batshit moments, as the film effectively gives horror movie fans the finger. (To be honest, you could make an equally valid generalisation that the more avid fans of Danny Dyer's consistently low-aiming fare have something wrong with them up top.) Worse: having insulted the gorehound audience the film shamefully panders to them with an extended dream sequence that not only riffs on the original Maniac (with Philip's sculpted mannequins coming to life) but has Jane turn demonic and tear his face off before ripping his heart out and clawing his ribcage open. It's an enjoyably grisly frenzy of gloopy gore, but in a film which has just told its audience they're backward morons for liking precisely this kind of thing, it leaves a very bad taste.
Blood Shot is rubbish: the kind of nonsense that thinks layering on a bit of classical music will improve matters, as though the class will rub off. That it doesn't make any sense whatsoever - is this Philip's house or is he housesitting? If Jane has had her passport stolen how is she getting back to New York? - seems hardly the point, but then you have to ask what the point is and in truth I have no idea. It doesn't work, it doesn't hang together, the big gore scene feels like it's from a different film entirely and the leading man is yet again just not up to the job. Stunningly missable.