Toronto After Dark Review: 'Blood Machines' Is a Cyberpunk Wet Dream

Directed by Seth Ickerman

Starring Elisa Lasowski, Joëlle Berckmans, Anders Heinrichsen, Christian Erickson, Noémie Stevens

BY Alex HudsonPublished Oct 21, 2019

Blood Machines is a sequel to a 2016 music video, "Turbo Killer," which was directed by Seth Ickerman (aka Raphaël Hernandez and Savitri Joly-Gonfard) and soundtracked by synth-wave artist Carpenter Brut. One $271,351 Kickstarter campaign later, and Ickerman has turned the trippy cyberpunk dream world into a seriously out-there 50-minute feature.
Blood Machines is significantly longer than "Turbo Killer," but it doesn't have a whole lot more substance. The rather nebulous plot involves humans hunting down an AI ghost and encountering living spaceships that have souls. The dialogue is clumsily written and awkwardly delivered, but the film's tongue-in-cheek silliness means it's difficult to tell if that's intentional.
The supernatural spaceship souls are personified as naked women floating around with glowing, upside-down crosses over their genitals. It's very gratuitous and doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but it certainly adds to the impression that this whole project is an erotic fantasy created by someone who spent their teenage years hitting rewind on Princess Leia in a gold bikini.
If there's one thing that Blood Machines nails, it's the '80s sci-fi aesthetic. Every moment of these 50 minutes is awash in glowing neon, psychedelic CGI and twinkling synthscapes. When Carpenter Brut injects some muscle into his surging beats, the film captures the same giddy energy that earned "Turbo Killer" so much attention on YouTube. Shut off your brain and it's possible to get lost in the glitzy cyberpunk visuals.
No one could ever accuse Ickerman and Brut of being half-hearted in their homage to retro sci-fi B movies; whether or not that's a good thing will depend entirely on the viewer's appetite for corny genre exercises.

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