A web series is a wonderful thing. Short, captivating installments of a show, made on the cheap but by very talented and dedicated people, they can gain huge cult followings. It seems, however, that one such series managed to slip under my radar. Yet, through the glories of Twitter, I was able to fall into the sordid world of 'Blood and Bone China'.
It certainly ticks all but one of the boxes of a typical web-series. The episodes are short and captivating, and those on and behind the camera are tremendously dedicated to bringing forth a hugely entertaining succession of installments. But somehow, it doesn't seem cheap. The sets are lavish, the fake blood (which so many big budget horrors get wrong) is very realistic, and it has special effects that wouldn't be out of place on a mainstream sci-fi show. 'Blood and Bone China', within the first ten minutes, slapped me around the face and told me to pay attention. This is not a show to be missed!
So, what's it about? Good question, and one of the big factors of this show is that you don't really know, to begin with. Like a novel (of which more in a moment), the plot unfolds slowly, but maintains your interest with intriguing events and some wonderfully perverse characters. I shall give a bit of detail, plotwise, on each of the episodes, or 'Chapters', but not much. If you want to know what happens, watch them!
As for the setting, 'Blood and Bone China' is Victorian England, 1897, right out of a Hammer Horror film, with all the 'behind-closed-doors naughtiness' and mystery that that entails. The setting, and overall plot, is also clearly influenced by the Gothic Horrors that were written during the time this show is set. Indeed, with its' carefully crafted storyline, and deep and sordid characters, not to mention the fact that the installments are labelled as 'Chapters' rather than 'Episodes', 'Blood and Bone China' itself feels like a Gothic novel, or one of the episodic Penny Dreadfuls of the day. Just a bit more modern in its' execution!
CHAPTER 1 - 'Oblivion and Paradise'
Chapter 1 begins the story, by revealing that a Dr. Richard Howell has made some sort of disturbing discovery, that could also prove dangerous. During an attempt to deliever a package, he is attacked by a Vampire, and the story begins....
The lively opening sequence kicks things off nicely - a pacy, slap-in-the-face affair with a catchy punk theme tune (courtesy of the band Birthrite), and teasing glimpses of some of the friends and freaks we'll be meeting on this journey. It works well, and once you've seen it, it's impossible to NOT watch the rest!
Once the Chapter starts proper, we're given some lovely glimpses of Stoke-On-Trent, and the inside of Dr. Howell's study/lab. The attention to detail here is excellent, all skeletons and bizarre drawings, not to mention the token lit candle that every self-respecting Gothic horror should feature at some point. Accompanied by a haunting choir score, this is the first example of everything falling into place very quickly.
Another thing that falls into place very quickly is the acting. Simon Hooson, as Dr. Richard Howell, brings forth the characters determination and torment with carefully observed skill. He purveys the haunted nature of the man very well, and with complete conviction.
By contrast, Richard's relative, the vet Newlyn Howell, is awkward and rather absent-minded. Seeing him at work, falling over and generally letting things get on top of him, the audience is instantly on his side. Anthony Miles channels his inner-Peter Davison here, but adds a charm and eagerness all of his own.
Then there is the sumptuous Lara De-Leuw as Lady Victoria, a truly wicked she-Vampire, and servant of a mysterious figure known as Linus Hemlock. Miss De-Leuw plays Lady Victoria as an utterly vicious, totally evil monster, and she nails it. She evidently relishes the role of villain, and makes her character both scary and sexy. Indeed, if there's one thing I cannot resist, it's beautiful Vampiric vixen bathing in blood.
The rest of the cast are all brilliant, and it's safe to assume that as the plot unravels, we will be seeing more of them. Special mentions must go to Ryan Callaghan, as 'The Servent', who is reminiscent of 'Bad-Angel' in Buffy, and John Dutton as Farmer Hewitt, who has hilarious comic timing.
Directed with flair and passion by Chris Stone, and with a spot-on script and superb cast, 'Blood and Bone China' is unmissable stuff. Sexy, scary, gripping, and bloody, this should be number one on your viewing list. And you can do it right now! Chapter 1 - 'Oblivion and Paradise'
More About 'Blood and Bone China'
Official Website: http://www.bloodandbonechina.com/index.html