Film Review: Aaron's Blood

The single father of a bullied son is forced to confront the fact that his 12-year-old is a vampire-in-the-making in this offbeat drama.
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Mild-mannered, bespectacled, unathletic adolescent Tate Diaz (Trevor Stovall) has had a rough year in the wake of his mother's death in an accident. Aaron (James Martinez), a phlebotomist, already barely holding up under the pressure of looking after his sickly child and his gnawing belief that Tate thinks Aaron should have died instead, is wracked by guilt and impotently furious at his inability to keep Tate from being bullied by the usual pack of middle-school creeps.

Things just get worse when Tate is tripped after gym class by his tormentors and winds up in the hospital and requires a blood transfusion…except that the next day he's better…weirdly better. His eyesight is suddenly normal and when one of the usual jerks starts in on him, he grabs the kid by the throat and pins him to the wall. Sure, his resting pulse rate has slowed to 45 beats per minute—that's Olympic-caliber athlete slow—and he develops a nasty sunburn after a few minutes outdoors, but hey, not the kind of thing that warrants a parental freakout, right? Except that it is…Tate "got some bad blood" at the hospital and he's changing, forcing Aaron to ask himself how far he's willing to go to protect his child.

More than a hundred years—120, to be exact—after Bram Stoker's Dracula was published and 95 after the release of Nosferatu, vampires have not only survived but thrived and mutated and found new life as metaphors. Like the somber, eerie The Transfiguration, which also pivots on the unnerving notion of a marginalized child with a lust for blood, writer-director Tommy Stovall’s Aaron's Blood treads the line between exploiting traditional horror tropes (oh, those lips of blood!) and using vampirism as an almost infinitely flexible metaphor, in this case for youthful alienation and self-absorption. Somber and suffused with a resigned sadness, it's a must-see for vampire-movie completists and a no-go for Twilighters who prefer their blood drinkers all sexy and a-sparkle.

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