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Books of Blood

Hulu’s Books Of Blood Explained- How The Stories Fit Together

Hulu reimagined Clive Barker’s Books Of Blood, where the stories fit together like messy pages in an unsettling bloody text.

Admittedly, Hulu’s original Books Of Blood is not the best adaptation of the man’s works. This is not Hellraiser, Candyman, or even Nightbreed. It’s more a juiced-up Goosebumps story. That’s not to say it’s all bad or not worth your time. The sum is much better than the parts. Primarily this is due to the second segment being way too long and way too short on scares.

If you can make it through the slow creeper, you are rewarded with a mild scare or two and then a quality third installment. This story about a professor who has recently lost her son is the best of the group. She meets a man named Simon, who claims to be able to commune with the dead. This dark story is heavy on visual scares and creepy kids. The final wrap around story is where the magic happens. All three stories fit together so nicely you almost forget the endurance swim that was the most extended story. Here’s how all three stories fit together.

The film opens with the wrap-around segment, which I will leave for last. The bulk of the film, nearly forty-five minutes, is devoted to a story about a young woman with a nasty phobia. Misophonia is the intense fear of noise. For some, it can be any noise, but for Jenna, it is mouth noises primarily. She takes medication for this, but something not explained happened while away at college, and she had a “breakdown.” The undetermined event was terrible. Since then, she has left school and returned home. She also has gone off her medication. Her mother has had it with her refusal to heal and says she is sending her back to the farm in the morning. This quaint moniker is evidently coding for a mental hospital.

Books Of Blood
Screengrab Official Trailer

Not wanting to go back to the hospital, Jenna steals some money and takes a bus out of town. She is headed to Los Angeles but only makes it a few miles before the sounds overwhelm her. Getting off the bus, she finds herself with no place to stay. With few options, she finds a room in a seemingly ideal situation. There is a kindly(too kindly) husband and wife who want nothing more than to help her. Unfortunately, their brand of help includes drugging, cutting our tongues and eyes, and leaving you drugged in the walls’ crawl spaces indefinitely.

This story has several callbacks to the wraparound story. The first is the location for the bus drop off is the bookstore where the film opens. As our girl gets off the bus and crosses the street, she is nearly run over by a car. In that car is the duo of goons who are looking for the Book of Blood. The final dovetail is one of the two thugs inadvertently interrupts the Bed & Breakfast owners with disastrous results for him.

Miles’ segment is both the basis for the overarching storyline and the goriest. There are literal walls of blood. Simon appears one day to Mary to tell her he can speak to her son. What follows is a weirdly compelling seance session in a clinical setting. It is bizarre and should have been alarming to Mary but for unknown reasons is just intriguing. She is convinced he is the real deal and sets out to get funding for a psychic money-making venture.

Simon turns out to be a charlatan, but the dead wants their pound of flesh and aren’t thrilled about being used for parlor tricks. Mary’s ex-husband hired Simon to seduce Mary and destroy her credibility. The dead are not happy about Simon but we never know what happens to Mary’s ex who conceived of the plot. Perhaps that will serve as a story in the inevitable chapter two?

Miles’ section acts as the spine of the entire film. It is the basis for all three conclusions. Both Bennett, one of the thugs, Jenna, and Miles’s names appear on Simon. It is the third story, but it is out of sequence. Simon and Professor Mary’s events happen first and drive everything that happens in the film and presumably after that. Mary is the narrator heard throughout the film. Simon is the unfortunate soul forced to serve his masters.

When the words of the dead are etched into his skin, Simon becomes the Book of Blood. He remains with Mary as does her dead son, Miles. The two goons are seeking the Books Of Blood, hoping for a huge payday. Bennett stumbles into Mary’s house after watching his partner shoot himself in the head. He tries to take the Simon but ends up stabbing himself several times in the stomach. It’s heavily implied the dead make you hallucinate. Bennett stumbled into the yard of the B & B owners and is bludgeoned to death on the night that Jenna’s fellow housemate Gavin goes missing.

In the wrap-around segment, all three stories come together. The goons’ hunt for the Books of Blood got both of them killed. Ravenswood’s college and hospital are where the professor taught and is now home to all the restless dead. In the final reveal, Jenna’s story is explained. She is one sick twist who convinced her boyfriend to kill himself. Jenna is very upset about it, but you never really know if it is guilt over her role in his death or sadness that she isn’t with him. She chooses to return to the B & B to become one with the house like the rest of the drugged family. In the end, she is the only one who escapes. You can’t hear the dead speak when your ears no longer function.

While not perfect, the nifty tie weaving of the stories leaves you with a satisfying if sarcastic chuckle. Hulu’s Books of Blood is out today.

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