BALLAD IN BLOOD
With the selling point of being, "From the cult director of Cannibal Holocaust," Ruggero Deodato's Ballad in Blood immediately sets a precedent: there will be violence, and lots of it. However, considering that it's been thirty-seven years since Cannibal Holocaust - a lengthy time frame in which Deodato has failed to make another film worth mentioning - this poster art proclamation should be viewed as a warning rather than an enticing fact. While Cannibal Holocaust remains one of the most notorious films of all-time, it would seem that Deodato's interests - sex and violence, and what happens when you combine the two - have remained course.
Supposedly a loose interpretation of the murder of Meredith Kercher (aka the Amanda Knox case), Ballad in Blood utilizes The Hangover's "morning after" approach to solve the death of Lenka's (Carlotta Morelli) roommate, Elizabeth (Noemi Smorra). Along for the ride are suspect duo Arden (Rogert Garth) and Jacopo (Gabriele Rossi), who appear more concerned with drugs and sex than their sudden memory loss or the dead body mere feet from them.
In order to better mystify his audience - and I assume sustain a feature length running time - Deodato employs a fractured narrative, jumping from before the murder to after, dropping hints of what could be and twists of what actually is. How fun, right? Wrong. The end result is a headache inducing "story" that is fifty-percent porn level actors speaking in what sounds like Google translated English, and fifty-percent B-roll footage from a girl's iPhone as she seemingly never puts her selfie stick down.
Revelations are made as everyone is implicated at one point or another, to the point where the mystery itself means nothing. Blood is spilled, sex is had, and a whole slew of racist and misogynist ideals are touted, culminating in a brutal sexual assault which serves as the film's centerpiece. What's frustrating is that the aforementioned aptly describes Cannibal Holocaust as well. However, while Deodato was obviously at the top of his game in Holocaust, aware of the line between subversive and banal, his concerns lie elsewhere in Ballad of Blood (the various non-nonsensical nude scenes perhaps).
Sure, there is an argument to be made that it's all "so bad it's good," but Ballad in Blood is such an abysmal work that it's hard to imagine this film has anything to say other than Deodato should find another line of work.