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Spike Lee Cuts Deep With ‘Da Sweet Blood of Jesus’

Spike Lee Cuts Deep With 'Da Sweet Blood of Jesus'

Spike Lee’s Kickstarter-financed “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” had its world premiere as the closing night film of the American Black Film Festival last night, and initial reactions to the movie are all wildly disparate. It’s confirmed, finally, that the movie is a remake of Bill Gunn’s “Ganja & Hess,” although Lee denies it’s a vampire movie: “Vampires can’t go to the Fort Greene projects in daytime!” The Guardian’s Jordan Hoffman has the only feature-length review so far, but critics’ reactions on Twitter forecast a movie that’s either wildly inspired or simply mess. No American distribution has yet been announced for the film.

Jordan Hoffman, Guardian

Shot on a shoestring budget (and partially crowdfunded through Kickstarter) this tale of hemato-addicted lovers has a few gross-out moments, but is more interested in stylized, jazzy performances set in manicured interiors with a high-definition snap than it is in jump scares. While the story could be reduced to a standard slasher of the VHS era, Lee’s presentation is rooted in European arthouse cinema, resulting in a peculiar film that may be uneven, but is too unique and enjoyable to dismiss.

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

With “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,” Lee consolidates some of the best attributes of both recent efforts to make a mild return to form. A relatively faithful remake of the under-seen 1973 black horror classic “Ganja & Hess,” it doesn’t match that movie’s rich treatment of African-American identity, and suffers from some distracting, amateurish qualities associated with the performances and script. But it successfully funnels some of its best ideas through a filter of New York attitude and rage against a society riddled by addiction and socioeconomic problems. In essence, no matter the source material, it’s a Spike Lee joint.

Rodrigo Perez, the Playlist

Nothing about “Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus” is remotely subtle. Lee’s dealbreaking problem is the movie wants to be everything at once, and thus its tenor is disastrously incoherent and inconsistent. Equal parts self-serious drama with religious overtones, overwrought melodrama/romance, silly comedy and horror movie, tone is a serious problem for Lee’s picture; imagine Napoleon playing a drunken game of RISK, that’s how all over the map it is. Lee attempts to further explore ideas of absolution, belief, redemption, and the spiritual longing evinced in “Red Hook Summer” but as filtered through a decidedly B-movie lens—gratuitous gore, violence and especially nudity—this negotiation of genre and theme never connect in any meaningful way.

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