Brian A. Bernardoni | Chicago, Illinois | 09/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
While there may be those who see the title and expect a certain kind of film with copious amounts of blood, gore and sex; they may not expect the extras that make this a feature film worth watching for fans of horror. What are those extras? A great cast; a strong plot and a lead character in the name of Jack Fender which merits your strong attention.
Fender, played with intensity and thoughtfulness by Daniel Patrick Sullivan is a remorseful man with the burdens of the world on his shoulders. While he has what appears to be job as an erotic photographer for a porn site that would appeal to the most prurient interests, he is deep individual with haunting memories that push him into deep thought. His pain centers over the loss of his wife - the love of his life. Fender is no decadent pervert - he is an artist making his way through the world.
His sponsor in the world of electronic porn (a site called 2nd Cumming), his techie friends that handle the site and all that deal with Jack appear to be friendly - and relatively complacent and somewhat patient with his way of life. Enter a mysterious and intensely beautiful woman; an even more mysterious box with a great treasure and you have yourself quite a start to a movie. Catholicism is rampant in the film; and brings Fender full circle into confronting his loss of wife; his broken faith and yes - even the potential for the end of the world.
While this may seem to be a lot of issues to cover; the film actually delivers.
This is not the stuff of Ei Cinema. Even though I am a fan of the films, those seeking flagrant gratuitousness may be disappointed. Don't get me wrong - there is more than enough sex; beautiful women; and blood and gore; but it happens at such a pace where it actually all makes sense.
This is a beautifully directed and shot film with lots going for it. Shot in Chicago, using local talent - the film; directed by Lance Catania is a great rookie effort. The standout in the film is Daniel Patrick Sullivan, who excels in the everyman. Even when surrounded by a truly beautiful woman in Iona played by Janina Gavankar, Sullivan comprehends the character of Jack Fender and maintains it throughout. The supporting cast also supplies more than enough depth and downright weirdness to make this film a surreal escape. Look for great supporting cast standouts; notably Circus-Szalewski as Nibbles and Quianna Whittler as Scooter as well as Laurence Skorniak as Limpy (who really freaked me out).
Technically, standout sound; critical in a horror/thriller also was a major joy for me to listen in this film. As a native of Chicago, the sound men really captured the sounds of creaking wood and doors in vintage buildings. Set design was also well done - considering this is considered a low budget film.
I like the Jack Fender character. If a disappointment in the film could be had - it's that it doesn't exactly leave the door open to more of Jack...or does it? You will have to watch the film to find out. A final three words...BRING JACK BACK! "
'A' quality Film
Don Talon | 03/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film has a terrible name;the type of name which sends B movie tremors all through your system at it's sound but take no heed at the name, this is a fantastic psychological thriller/horror.
I really thought this was crap so I had pretty much placed myself in 'crap movie mode' where-in I watch the film and then totally forget about it. I was so stunned at how good this was that I actually had to rewatch it 40 minutes into it so as to really reset myself into my 'this has gotta be a good movie mode'.
A photographer comes into contact with 2 mysterious characters who offer him a box which contains something they tell him not to look upon;he however opens this box and opens himself up to be preyed on my multiple evil forces; no one can be trusted with this secret and anyone who knows of this secret ends up dead; all the time he remains haunted by events with occured in his past.
Passion ,murder,betrayal and paranoia are the forces at play in this fine film with the truly misleadingly poor title.
This film is scary .
I recommend this."
Chilling and Intelligent
Damien | 01/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an amazing film, but is not for everybody. Its not for people looking for sophomoric humor and a plot spoon fed to imbeciles. You need to think. I won't waste your time with the plot synopsis because its already been covered.
Its obvious Catania and the film making team love what they do. Their passion is evident in every frame. Every shot is composed with emotion and subtext in mind. It is beautiful to look at. The lighting dares to be dark and heavy, so unlike most horror films that are bright and over-lit.
Cup of My Blood never goes for the cheap scare, the cat jumping at you kind of crap. Catania creates a mood dark and melancholy. Its a slow burn that leads to scares growing out of the story and Jack Fender's situation, rather than contrivances thrown arbitrarily at the audience. When the scares come, its quite jolting. Catania also isn't squeamish in his depiction of violence. There are buckets of blood, but its devastating and ugly, not celebratory. Catania has developed the characters to such a degree that when the violence occurs, we truly care about them and it is quite affecting and horrific.
The acting is also top notch. The performances by all are subtle and and multi-layered. Again, a departure from most recent horror films where the characters are loud, abrasive smart asses who have no depth and nothing to say other than cracking jokes and insulting each others mommies. Stand outs are Daniel Patrick Sullivan as Jack Fender and Janina Gavankar as Iona. Sullivan's performance as Jack is tortured, wrenching and brilliant. Gavankar's smoldering depiction of Iona is daring, sensuous and very evil. I hope to see much more from both of them.
This is something different, something smart for fans of the genre who appreciate not being talked down to or being treated like morons by the filmmakers. It deals with a subject most are afraid to address, faith. And it does it very well.
I'm eagerly anticipated what Catania delivers next.
Over Achieving Indie Horror
D. Sippel | Chicago, IL United States | 05/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After decades of watching horror films, I always have a soft spot in my heart for film makers who are able to work with very little resources yet achieve results that far surpass the majority of major Hollywood releases. "Cup of My Blood" is one of those special films.
There seems to be a certain blueprint that the majority of moviemakers follow, taking the standard three act format and adding a few little fairly predictable twists along the way to differentiate their film from the film next lot. While I can appreciate and be entertained by a number of these films, occasionally a film comes along that intrigues me and keeps me guessing throughout. Part of the intrigue here comes from the subject matter. Spirituality and religion, especially (sacri)religious (true or faux) history interest me, and "Cup of My Blood" struck me as a sort of poor cousin to Roman Polanski's "The Ninth Gate". By poor cousin, I'm speaking merely in terms of budget, not quality. Now "Cup of Blood" doesn't look as good as Ninth Gate does, and certainly doesn't demonstrate a Johnny Depp level of acting ability (in fact one of the actors in particular kind of bugged me), but based on the film makers' limited resources and what they ultimately achieved, I have to give up some major kudos to this film. This is gutsy independent film making at its best, and while it's definitely not for everyone, those looking for something off the beaten path should appreciate this overlooked gem."
Dark & Brooding (Low Budget) Horror
Eddie Quist | The Colony | 04/02/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Cup Of My Blood" combines a few different genres to create a unique movie experience. Writer/Director Lance Catania uses a gloomy look to present his story, which can best be descibed as "The Da Vinci Code" meets "The Evil Dead". And NO, I'm not comparing "Cup Of My Blood" to those classic films, but story-wise it has that kind of vibe happening. The acting is a mix-mash of talent, some outstanding and others a bit stiff, but over-all effective in this context. The cinematography looks fantastic, and keeps an eerie feeling of dread present at all times. With a mix of politics, porn, love and demonic possesion, you can't go wrong for your Indie dollar."