Raphaël Hernandez and Savitri Joly-Gonfard, under the pseudonym ‘Seth Ickerman’, became online sensations after directing Carpenter Brut’s ‘TURBO KILLER’ music video. 7 million views and three years later, Ickerman return with a hyper-stylized sci-fi adventure: “BLOOD MACHINES”. Expect crushing synth stabs, bass thumping and tons of naked babes with glowing crucifixes coming out of their foreheads.
“BLOOD MACHINES” centres around Vascan (Anders Heinrichsen), his co-pilot Lago (Christian Erickson), and their sentient AI console. The two are scavengers, searching for the ‘Mima’, a renegade ship piloted by it’s own AI which is “trying to free itself.” To the pilots surprise, Mima is actually an ethereal naked woman with a glowing crucifix on her chest who escapes from the disabled ship into space. Along with the mystic Corey (Elisa Lasowski), captured by the greedy Vascan, they travel to an outer-rim graveyard for scrapped vessels in pursuit of the Mima and that’s where the “story” really starts: There’s telepathic dance choreography, glowing hexagonal pathways into the human soul and, of course, body swapping, with the most simultaneous on screen breasts I’ve seen in a non porno film.
Although this film may just be a bunch of influences and style over substance, it’s done right. I saw a screening of BLOOD MACHINES at Toronto After Dark, to a packed crowd who cheered from start and finish. The dialogue of this film may be reminiscent of RPG cutscenes at times, but Ickerman ensures enough visual overload to leave viewers in the psychedelic synthase trip of a lifetime. I don’t think those who are interested in this film are here for connective storytelling or a hidden deep meaning, especially at a runtime of under 60 minutes, which to me is a perfect amount of time for most genre films these days.
You are correct to assume “BLOOD MACHINES” is one massive music video that’s always favouring style over storytelling, and in a totally NSFW way that only offers ‘naked space witch’ roles for women. However, Hernandez and Joly-Gonfard embrace their universe and don’t bother to spell it out with painful exposition that we see in 98% of all modern films, which helps plug the viewer into their unique vision of a cosmic dystopia. Viewers will quickly be able to decide if this short, punchy vision is for them, and if so: get ready for a hyper-speed adventure with hypnotic qualities… an automaton’s editorialized and hyper stylized-daydream without any exit. I wish there was more resolution with the somewhat shallow characters – but who am I kidding, I’ll re-watch this sexually charged space race any day…and probably will watch it at least another 10 times once it hits digital release on Shudder.