Bloodworkz aka Bloodwork (2012): The Things We Do For Money

Travis Van Winkle and Tricia Helfer in Bloodworkz
Bloodworkz, aka Bloodwork, is a 2012 horror film that could almost be seen as a cautionary tale. A look at the things we do for money; for instance taking part in drug trials for big pharmaceutical companies. Directed by Eric Wostenberg, his second time in the chair; the first being the 2005 film Sacrifice which he wrote as well, the film looks at the dire consequences of taking drug tests too far.

Starring Travis Van Winkle (Transformers, Friday the 13th), Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica, Tiberium Wars), John Bregar (Kick-Ass 2, Servitude) and Joe Pingue (Drive, Pacific Rim) Bloodworkz follow a mixed group who participate in the trials of a new drug meant to deal with allergies, instead the corporation is testing a regenerative vaccine with deadly side effects. Eric Roberts is used in a tiny cameo as a bit of typecasting, he is the organization’s “cleaner.”

Two college students decide to take part, for a fee of $3,000. Greg (Van Winkle) and Ira (Bogaert) are typically cash strapped young men, Greg is the extrovert and Ira the more sensible of the two. Once the trials begin Greg zooms in on the woman running the trials Dr. Wilcox (Helfer). Another trial member, Englishman Nigel Denton (Rik Young) shows the two men around and explains about placebos. Something that will Greg will personally know about later on.

The film moves steadily towards its climax. The participants are each affected by the serum, or vaccine the same way; loss of inhibitions, a lowering of resistance to eating grotesque items and an increased resilience to injuries. As easily imagined, this ends badly for all involved and the film could be classed as a disturbing horror film. People eating rotting animals and, finally, other people as they overdose on the drug.

This US/Canadian film is not too dissimilar to the 2012 UK horror film The Facility. Like Bloodworkz/Phase One/Bloodwork/The Last Experiment, the British film deals with paid drug trials that go horrifically wrong. Starring Alex Reid (The Descent, Wilderness) and Aneurin Barnard (Citadel, Ironclad) and written/directed by Ian Clark (See No Evil, Ultimate Warfare) the film is comparable in terms of entertainment and it too can be seen as a cautionary tale.

It is odd that two films so alike came out in the same year. Rather interestingly, on IMDb, Bloodworkz just nudges past The Facility in ratings. The former getting a score of 5.1 and the latter a score of 4.7. It could well be down to a matter of taste, or that the American/Canadian film features more in the way of gratuitous nudity. The Ian Clark film also feel a bit like a docudrama as well as different side effects from the American film’s drug trials.

The two films both feature participants who change dramatically as a result of the trials, with the Brits all becoming psychotic homicidal monsters (literally becoming disfigured) versus becoming superhuman and disgusting eating machines. Each ends badly and preference is down to personal taste in the end although the ratings at IMDb make no real sense. There is nudity in the British film, for around a minute and it is non-sexual in nature. The US film features the obligatory bare boobs and gratuitous sex scene along with an attempted rape.

Both films are available on Hulu and fans of horror films should have a look at both of them. Each film is entertaining and of similar budgets although The Facility seems to have better FX overall. Fans of Alex Reid, one of the best character actresses in film and television, will appreciate her performance in the Brit film.

Bloodworkz does have Roberts in his two second cameo but not much else in terms of star power. As a horror/thriller film it ticks the boxes and provides an interesting story but not much in the way of character development. At the end of the day, the viewer never really gets attached to the two dimensional characters in the film.

This is a 3 out of 5 star film and pretty solid horror fare if not overly impressive in terms of plot and character empathy. Worth a look but not two.

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