Blood Machines, the kickstarted sequel to the music video Turbo Killer, is easily the most ambitious indie I caught at Fantastic Fest. The French film, which has been in production for close to three years, was something I was curious about considering I dug the retro style of Turbo Killer, but that nostalgic ‘80s-fueled trend has thankfully run its course since. What you get here is something that while keeping with that vibe feels like the next step in that trend’s evolution creating its own thing, with a story that’s just as ambitious as the film’s visuals while taking on the patriarchy of science fiction.
The lean 50-minute film begins as two space hunters track down a rogue craft that has crash landed on a desolate planet. After witnessing the onboard artificial intelligence leaving the ship’s remains and darting off into space, taking the form of a ghostly naked woman, the hunters kidnap a member of the crashed ship’s all-female crew and follow the A.I. into the black void. Blood Machines leans heavily into its visuals, which are rich with context and mythology, to carry the film’s complex narrative as the hunters find more than they bargained for after tracking the A.I. to her destination.
Blood Machines employs storytelling from a singular consciousness, with an emphasis on mind blowing visuals that are something usually reserved for big budget filmmaking by committee. It’s a visual tour de force, harvesting the best of sci-fi of and horror — everything from Metropolis to Alien — infusing them into the film’s kinetic neon-soaked D.N.A. I was left awestruck by the film’s final moments as Blood Machines’ ties to Turbo Killer are cemented, and we as an audience are left to piece our fragile consciousness back together after having it shattered by a climax riddled with echoes to Hideaki Anno. Simply put, Blood Machines will melt your face off.