BLOOD PARADISE is a Great Erotic Thriller with a Feminist Streak

Blood Paradise recently hit Blu-ray thanks to Artsploitation Films and is the feature length debut film by German music video director Patrick von Barkenberg, starring his wife, Swedish model Andréa Winter. The film takes the premise of one of the music videos he directed for Baby Yaga (which is also included on this disc) and expands the story rather effectively into an engaging erotic thriller with a much more modern vibe. Now that description may scare some folks off, but trust me on this one, I thought the same thing. But after the credits rolled, I was pleasantly surprised with this hidden gem.

The film is the story of Robin Richards (Winter), a famous female author with a serious Kristen Stewart vibe, who writes S&M crime thrillers that appear to be in the vein of Fifty Shades of Grey. Her last book wasn’t quite a hit with fans, and her editor suggests going to a farm in Sweden for a change of scenery to help inspire her latest effort and possibly change things up. Robin reluctantly accepts her editor’s invite and travels out to the idyllic Swedish farm, only to find the wife of farmer she was staying with to have recently passed, causing her host to act rather peculiar. The farmer starts spending a good portion of his time in his shed with the windows covered, blasting Swedish music. If you’ve seen Ari Aster’s Midsommar, you know this probably isn’t going to end well.

Star Andréa Winter had a lot of control behind the camera; she is listed as star, co-writer, and producer, among other roles, and it shows. Not only is our heroine confident and competent here, but even though there is plenty of skin, it bizarrely doesn’t feel too gratuitous or exploitative. It also doesn’t hurt that the cast here is made up of her family, with the bulk of the film shot on their farm in Sweden by her husband. It’s the kind of idea that isn’t very unique — “hey, let’s make a low budget horror film on my family’s farm” — but it’s a perfect storm thanks to Andréa, who sticks to her strengths and turns in a solid performance that is nuanced with a dark humor and wit. Story-wise, the film is a tense whodunnit that benefits from the fish out of water take on Andrea’s predicament, as the immaculately manicured Hollywood author stumbles around the backwoods of Sweden.

Blood Paradise definitely surprised me in more ways than one. The more I dug into the film’s backstory after the fact, the more sense it made in how well it turned out. The erotic thriller was something that was a big deal in the ‘90s and really doesn’t have much of place in cinema today, but Patrick von Barkenberg does an updated throwback invoking Marian Dora, which has a much-needed feminist streak to make it very relevant today. This is definitely thanks to the film’s star, who really won me over and was instrumental in adding some much needed moments in the film that genuinely conveyed a feminine viewpoint in this well-tread horror scenario. I really enjoyed the hell out of Blood Paradise and think it’s a strong debut, which will have me on the lookout for this couple’s next project.

Previous post Two Cents Film Club Obliterated by KUNG FU HUSTLE
Next post The Making of WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE