“THIS FILM HAS BEEN MODIFIED FROM ITS ORIGINAL VERSION. IT HAS BEEN FORMATTED TO FIT YOUR TV.”
So reads text at the beginning of Blood Shed, in an affectionately nostalgic reconstruction of the experience of VHS home-viewing – an impression that is bolstered by the fact that the familiar static of tracking adjustment partially obscures these words at their base. James Moran’s short film, co-written with Cat Davies (who also cameos as a burglar), is indebted to the CGI-free horror of the Eighties, and in particular to George A. Romero’s Creepshow (1982), from which it borrows not only its dark EC Comics morality, but also its lo-fi mimicry of a comicbook’s forms (panel-like splits screens, blue and red lighting, luridly painted backgrounds, boxed text captions). The short format also suits Creepshow‘s structure, as though this were a lost British segment of Romero’s anthology film.
“Choose Life” is the message emblazoned on the T-shirt of Jack (Shaun Dooley), immediately placing him in the decade of Wham. Yet while his wife Helen (Sally Phillips) is preoccupied with the very business of life as she looks after their baby Ziggy, Jack himself instead chooses to carve out his own masculine hideaway on the margins of the domestic space. For Blood Shed is a story of divided genders and divided loyalties, as Helen finds herself the not altogether willing participant in a menage à trois between herself, her husband, and the DIY shed that he has built out back, and for which he harbours genuinely amorous feelings – and this is no ordinary shed, but one whose timbers come with a history of bad blood, and which has been erected on a garden plot with its own absurdly impossible record of past carnage.
Amid Jack and Helen’s hilarious battle of the sexes, the wooden erection that comes between them remains defiantly gender neutral (despite being given a woman’s name) in its willingness to reduce all who enter it to a red mist of viscera that is soon bespattering and ruining Jack’s positive ‘Choose Life’ message. The result is a funny, gory throwback to an epoch when, supposedly, men were men, women were women, and outbuildings were flesh-hungry hellsheds.