Hit or Sh**: Syfy’s BLOOD DRIVE
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
Jesus Christ, no, no, no, no, no!
In yet another example of Syfy’s predilection for dystopian alternate realities, the year is 1999 and the Earth has gone to the dogs. Julian Slink (Colin Cunningham), a poverty version of A FEVER YOU CAN’T SWEAT OUT-era Brendon Urie, runs a little something called the Blood Drive. If you couldn’t piece it together, the Blood Drive is a race between cars that run on human blood. The winner gets $10 million, and everyone else dies. Grace (Christina Ochoa), a *sigh* femme fatale, wants the moolah to care for her sister, while hunky cop Arthur (Alan Ritchson) pointedly does not want the money and does not want to race, but fuck it, Slink makes him! Meanwhile, Arthur’s partner, Christopher (Thomas Dominique), does a little snooping and is somehow surprised that the private security firm that owns the police is likely corrupt, in addition to having ties to a shady corporation known as Heart Industries. Now Arthur and Grace have to win the race and help Christopher topple the shady branches of capitalism that got everyone into this mess.
Something about closing a goddamn door
With most Syfy shows, I find myself baffled that executives assumed that the premises would appeal to any demographic, and the one mark I will make in BLOOD DRIVE’s favor is that it does have an intended audience. However, its presumed fan base of B movie-worshipping “quirky” “oddballs” that never listened to anything heavier than Marilyn Manson is so culturally insufferable that I’d rather watch VAN HELSING. The thing is, grindhouse isn’t actually that fun. Self-aware violence and campiness is sophomoric and obnoxious unless making a legitimately clever larger thematic commentary (STARSHIP TROOPERS), or taken to such ridiculous extremes that it becomes a transgressive orgy of abjection (TOKYO GORE POLICE). The juvenile attempts to hype up its own supposed extremes are what makes BLOOD DRIVE nigh unwatchable as far as I’m concerned.
Loosely structured around a winking presentation from Slink concerning how network executives misunderstand his artistic intent, if the vomit somehow hasn’t left your mouth yet, little surprises like discovering you can call in to a “complaint hotline” to voice your concerns over the show’s content will get the bile out of you like an ever-flowing font. And the worst part is, the content really isn’t even that bad! Granted, this is coming from someone who spent impressionable high school summers watching such fine fare as SLAUGHTERED VOMIT DOLLS, AUGUST UNDERGROUND’S MORDUM, and A SERBIAN FILM, but I never even sort of came close to clutching my pearls. All it really is is a bunch of scraggly Knott’s Scary Farm rejects continually shoving people into woodchipper-like contraptions, but if you could somehow keep your wits about you during the scene in FARGO where Steve Buscemi does the same, you’ll be able to weather the storm just fine. The only scene that even remotely hits the stride the creators think the entire show does is towards the end, where Arthur and Grace have to have sex while driving in order to short circuit the implants Slink has put in them that will detonate upon losing. It’s as stupid as it sounds, but I had been so beaten into the ground at that point that it was refreshing to see something that at least didn’t feel the need to blatantly broadcast its try-hard attempts at edginess.
Gee, I wonder who they were influenced by
To top things off, the treatment of women is upsetting. I like to think that we’ve all grown up—no matter how much you’d like to rip your vape pen and adjust your fedora, showing the “dark nature of man” by having sexualized women constantly be under the threat of assault is tiresome and concerning. Look at how the official show’s page even describes Grace’s character as being able to “suck a lollipop and look sweet as cherry pie one moment and feed you into her blood engine the next.” In the scripts I wrote when I was literally 15, I had really hot women constantly enacting really gory violence on really creepy men. BLOOD DRIVE must have found my old manuscripts, but that’s not progressive! These female characters are physically strong, but still rely on beefcakes to save them when the going gets tough. Sprinkle some simply depressing imagery involving actual cheerleaders screaming as they’re tied up and fed into the hungry mouth of a car, and you’ve got yourself a real stinker.
I guess the acting isn’t terrible, but everything else about BLOOD DRIVE is so bankrupt that there is absolutely no reason to continue paying attention to this show. If you like dystopian fiction you can just watch MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, if you like gore you can Google “goriest films of all time” and make your way through several extensive lists, and if you like good television, you can turn to anything else Crossfader has recommended. Unless you’re a 12-15 year-old boy home alone while your mom’s at work, do something better with your time.
BLOOD DRIVE airs on Wednesdays on Syfy