A Sleepy Thriller Without The Thrills
Earth and Blood is the perfect example of how important editing and sound mixing is in a film. While the formulaic script and serviceable story is just enough to push the film toward its climactic, action-packed finale, the lackadaisical pacing, long cuts and bizarre musical choices make Earth and Blood more of a slog to get through than it should be. If you’ve ever wondered how to make a burning building and tense gunfight feel like a sleepy and boring slog then look no further.
The story itself is ultimately there to serve as a backdrop for the action that engulfs the final third of the film. After an intriguing opener involving a robbery, the narrative skips forward to follow our main protagonist, Saïd. Duped by his half brother Yanis, Saïd finds himself in the possession of a large stash of cocaine belonging to a gangster named Adama. After calling the police and revealing what’s happened, what follows is a long stretch of action sequences as Saïd defends his sawmill from a group of thugs that arrive while Yanis and Sarah try to get to safety.
With muted audio and an abundance of long shots, Earth and Blood feels much slower than it should be, given the premise. There’s potential here for a Lone Survivor-esque thriller, as overwhelming forces threaten to overpower a small band of fighters, but the film really slips up with poor atmosphere building and some really questionable edits.
From long, frontal shots of the thugs running toward the camera or an extended 13 second cut of the group arriving at the sawmill before the gunfight, these moments are far too frequent, littered throughout the film and really hold this one back from being a better title. The only time the pacing picks up is through a simple set piece involving a car reversing. These are, as far as I’m aware, the only instances of quick, extreme close-up shots being used and it’s ironic that this is one of the more exciting sequences of the film. Even if a few of these extreme close-ups were peppered into the gunfights it may have helped salvage this one.
That’s to say nothing of the brightness either, with colours far too dull and muted to make this feel aesthetically pleasing. Some interior scenes are incredibly dark too and this only piles on top of the other numerous issues the film has.
Ultimately though, Earth and Blood is an education in how not to pace and edit a thriller. The film is clearly gunning for the same sort of vibes other simple thrillers have achieved more effectively, but here it really fails to hit the mark. The lackadaisical manner the film is shot, the ill-suited atmospheric score and forgettable characters combine to make this an action thriller with little in the way of thrills to make it worth seeing through to the underwhelming conclusion.