Blood On Her Name


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Blood On Her Name
"Lind is compelling in the lead." | Photo: Courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival

Watching films about murder, it's easy to imagine that one would know what to do if one killed somebody and was afraid of getting caught. Whether they succeed or not, onscreen killers always approach their problem as, first and foremost, a practical one. Any panic tends to be centred on their own safety. Yet in reality, one of the key factors that police use to identify killers is that they behave unusually in the aftermath of the event - not in terms of the actions they take, but emotionally. Although Hollywood rarely admits it, for most people, killing is upsetting.

Leigh (Bethany Anne Lind) has already killed when we meet her. The details are not clear - they will emerge only slowly over the course of the film - but the blood and bruising on her face and her shaken state let us know at the outset that there was some kind of conflict involved. Nevertheless, she hasn't called the police. She's tried to cover it up, perhaps because her husband is in jail, perhaps because she has a teenage son on probation and she doesn't want to make his situation any worse. She's planning to dump the body. And then the dead man's phone rings and it's his son, leaving voicemail, expressing worry, asking why he hasn't come home. And she can't bear the thought of his family never knowing what became of him, so rather than dump the body out in the wilds, she leaves it where they can find it.

Copy picture

Inevitably, in doing so, she leaves clues as to who she is.

Matthew Pope's film is structured around the pursuit of these clues and Leigh's attempts to undo her mistakes, but first and foremost it's centred on her emotional state and on her relationships with those around her. There's her son, smart enough to realise that something's wrong, whom she's desperate to keep out of it. Her father (Will Patton), the town sheriff, whom she doesn't have a healthy relationship with to begin with, though that doesn't seem to be her fault. There are the employees she feels responsible for at the ailing mechanic business she inherited from her husband. One of the, Rey (Jimmy Gonzales), tries to look out for her but is in danger of becoming compromised himself. He's the kind of decent guy who would traditionally end up in trouble in a story like this, but Leigh is no willing femme fatale.

It's a small town. Everybody knows everybody by sight at least, from the small, weather-worn houses to the trailer park where the dead man's girlfriend (Elisabeth Röhm) is struggling to come to terms with what has happened, yearning for justice. These are working class people who have never known much justice in life and there's a sense that they have a keener sense of their own responsibilities as a result, that Leigh's overwhelming guilt reflects her social circumstances as well as her personal experience.

Lind is compelling in the lead, battling Hollywood myths to make viewers recognise the truth of Leigh's experience. Guilt, mistakes, spirally consequences, awful moral dilemmas - this is murder in the real world. It's a tough place to be, even for an hour and half, but what it has to say matters. It's an invitation to turn away, even for just a moment, from what's cool and clever, to remember what's human. Is there room, then, for things to turn out differently? Is there room for hope?

Reviewed on: 26 Feb 2020
Share this with others on...
Blood On Her Name packshot
A woman's panicked decision to cover up an accidental killing spins out of control when her conscience demands she return the dead man's body to his family.

Director: Matthew Pope

Writer: Don M Thompson, Matthew Pope

Starring: Bethany Anne Lind, Will Patton, Elisabeth Röhm

Year: 2019

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: US


Fantasia 2019

Search database: