One more cautionary tale about the foolishness of joining a college fraternity, Ben and Orson Cummings’ Blood in the Water watches as a materialistic Eden is spoiled by an old college chum who feels he is owed a few favors. What might sound on paper like a sexy thriller falls well short in execution, with a script that barely tries to convince us of its characters’ motivations and, when it tries, isn’t very successful. A last-ditch effort to twist things up at the end does little for the commercial prospects of this Los Angeles-set love triangle.
Percy and Veronica (Alex Russell and Willa Holland) have been housesitting in a spectacular Hollywood mansion all summer, frolicking by the pool and, in Percy’s case, fantasizing about a career as a white-boy bluesman. Then they get a surprise guest, Freedgood (Miguel Gomez). He doesn’t look like a fratboy, but the film tells us he was both Percy’s “big brother” and Veronica’s boyfriend in college, before he got sent to jail for selling drugs.
Love triangles involving drugs and guns usually generate more heat than this.
Now free, he’s back in the game and prosperous, eager to motivate the underambitious Percy. “See this shoe? Only 10 stores in the world sell this shoe,” he brags. Percy should want that kind of shoe. And whether he wants it or not, Percy had better use his special chemistry know-how to help Freedgood pull off a big drug deal he has going.
In most drug-trade flicks, you don’t need an advanced degree to cut a batch of cocaine and double your inventory. But Blood in the Water isn’t most drug-trade flicks; it just tries to look and sound like them. Less convincing than this bros-in-the-hood action is Freedgood’s attempt to re-seduce Veronica, who spends part of the movie giving Percy grief about his career prospects. “Playing a guitar for free is not a job,” she complains, just before Freedgood steps in to assert his alpha-male status. Holland never seems sure whether Veronica is filled with lust for him or just wishes she hadn’t invited him to stay with the couple.
The story is told in flashbacks, as a present-tense detective grills Percy and Veronica on Freedgood’s untimely and suspicious death. Knowing that this will all end in murder does little to infuse the movie’s limp drama with suspense. But viewers with nothing better to do might want to guess how the pic will ape The Usual Suspects in its closing scenes.
Distributor: Level 33 Entertainment
Production companies: Harris Road, Pull Pictures
Cast: Willa Holland, Alex Russell, Miguel Gomez, David S. Lee, Charlbi Dean Kriek
Directors-screenwriters: Ben Cummings, Orson Cummings
Producers: Mitchell Sandler, Mitch Solomon
Executive producers: Gigi Causey, Jennie Frisbie, Bob Sobhani, Zach Tann
Director of photography: Michael Alden Lloyd
Production designer: Danielle Laubach
Costume designer: Lynn Falconer
Editor: Susanne Spangler
Composers: The Newton Brothers
Casting directors: Joanna Colbert, Yesi Ramirez
Not rated, 91 minutes