Blood on Her Name opens with a dead body and a woman trying to decide what to do with it. From the start, you have questions: Who was killed? What happened? Who are we supposed to root for here? When you're hooked so thoroughly and so quickly, you know you're in for a ride. All those questions are answered as the story progresses, in a way that shows the film is more concerned with examining the impact of violence than with generating cheap thrills. This is a smart thriller about desperation.
Bethany Anne Lind (Doctor Sleep) plays Leigh Tiller, the woman dealing with the body. Leigh owns a garage, and we soon learn that she has inadvertently killed the man in self-defense. In a panic, she decides to hide the corpse and cover up what transpired. I won't reveal why this act occurred or who the man was. Instead, I'll just say that Leigh crosses paths with her estranged cop father (Will Patton) and the dead man's wife (Elisabeth Rohm) after the killing. In doing so, it becomes clear that she got herself into a bad situation that spiraled into something even worse, and might well keep on going. Now her concern is that what happened will negatively affect her teenage son Ryan (Jared Ivers), who has already been in trouble with the law.
Directed by Matthew Pope from a screenplay he wrote with Don M. Thompson, Blood on Her Name puts its focus on showing the panicked decisions Leigh makes. Suddenly faced with the implications of a violent act, she looks frantically for a way to avoid any negative repercussions, only to realize that no such way exists. She must, therefore, try to assess which potential response would yield the least awful outcome. That creates real psychological suspense, ensuring that you remain hooked from start to finish.
Lind is outstanding in the lead role. She makes Leigh's frantic search for a way out nerve-rattlingly authentic. The actress also convinces us of the character's empathy, despite being in a rather gruesome predicament. Leigh does something unexpected with the body that could have seemed implausible if not for the sincerity Lind beings to the role. She also has several powerful scenes with Patton, one of the most ultra-reliable character actors around. The dysfunctional dynamic they work up adds weight to Leigh's situation.
With a short 85-minute running time, Blood on Her Name would have benefited from going even further in depth on the incidents that created our heroine's dilemma. The film needs a bit more in that regard to make the themes extra potent. Don't let that dissuade you, though. The look at how one woman responds when backed into a corner is gripping stuff overall, thanks to compassionate writing and a stunning lead performance.
out of four
Blood on Her Name is unrated, but contains adult language and some bloody violence. The running time is 1 hour and 25 minutes.