Blood Relatives (1978)

aka Les liens de sang
Article 2960 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-15-2009
Posting Date: 9-21-2009
Directed by Claude Chabrol
Featuring Donald Sutherland, Aude Landry, Lisa Langlois
Country: Canada / France

When a young woman is murdered in an alley, her cousin, the only person who witnessed the crime, turns up at the police station bloody from knife wounds. She offers a description of the assailant, but then changes her story by accusing her own brother of the crime. The detective on the case hopes to learn the truth of the matter by reading the diary of the murdered girl… if he can find it.

This is not a horror movie; its horror content is mostly due to the savage murder that starts the plot rolling. The biggest clue to what this movie was going to be like comes early on, when the credits mention that it is based on a novel by Ed McBain, a mystery writer who specializes in police procedurals. And indeed, that’s what it is; we follow the investigation of the crime as the police finger several suspects, hunt down clues, interview people, and try to piece the puzzle together. The surrounding details and the final solution turn out to be very dark indeed; I suspect that the movie’s R rating is more for the nature of the plot elements (which include incest and child molestation) than for the actual murder details, which are nowhere near as bloody as they could have been. I was able to figure out who the murderer was going to be, but that didn’t destroy my pleasure with the movie, because it gave me a chance afterward to explore the various plot details and figure out why certain events happened when they did; for one thing, you’ll figure out exactly why the witness changed her story when she did. The cast is quite good, though Donald Pleasence is particularly memorable in a cameo as one of the suspects.


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