Blood Machines (2019): ‘The Synthwave Given Flesh’ – A Film Review



A while ago the Synthwave band Carpenter Brut brought out Turbo Killer, which got a music video that was so bathed in the CGI, neo-noir style of Synthwave that it became an anthem. This music video was so successful that it was sure to bring the filmmakers some attention. Blood Machines is the result of this popularity. Filmmakers Raphaël Hernandez and Savitri Joly-Gonfard set out to make this film after the surprise popularity of their music video. They looked to crowd funding through kickstarter to make a short, which became similarly popular. The fate was sealed. This music video, was to get a film based upon it, expanding upon it and giving Synthwave a narrative.


Neon Colours

So this shouldn’t surprise anyone. The film, looks amazing. It has a style that has only been hinted at in films like Blade Runner, Neon Demon, Mandy, Kung Fury and perhaps even anime films like Akira (d. Katsuhiro Ôtomo Japan 1988). It is debatably still finding its form. Blood Machines has a lot of this to boast, it looks amazing and it captures an atmosphere of technology, both futuristic and retro, dark and gloomy, but with bright and coloured lights. It is giving it all a look.


The Music Video Expanded

But that’s where the experimental and amazing nature of the film stops. It is, based upon a music video, after all. Perhaps we were expecting too much from it. The characters and narrative is thin, paper thin. Fortunately, you can just get lost in what you see. But there is little else there to really make it a film, to stand on its own right. It also serves as a prequel largely expecting you to have seen the music video. Fan service film and hugely reliant on that.



It is great that a film like this is being made and is getting attention. We saw it in the Soho Horror Film Festival and it was appreciated. It was one of the more unique films out there and it has a comment to make, it just falls flat of its aims. It is exactly what you’d expect from a film based upon a music video. Substance, there is none. But care? It looks so good with an immense atmosphere, who should care if there’s no substance? It’s not a long film anyway.



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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Blade Runner (d. Ridley Scott USA/Hong Kong/UK 1982/2007)

Blood Machines (d. Raphaël HernandezSavitri Joly-Gonfard France 2019)

Kung Fury (d. David Sandberg Sweden 2015)

Mandy (d. Panos Cosmatos UK/Belgium/USA 2018)

Neon Demon (d. Nicolas Winding Refn Denmark/France 2016)


Further Reading

Official Site

Seth Ickerman Interview

Last Campaign for Blood Machines

Teaser for Blood Machines

Second Teaser for Blood Machines

Making of Turbo Killer


If you liked this

Blade Runner (1982/2007) – A Film Review

Blade Runner 2049 (2017): ‘Real or Imitation?’ – A Film Review

Ghost in the Shell (2017) – A Film Review

This was an analytical review of….


Blood Machines (d. Raphaël HernandezSavitri Joly-Gonfard France 2019)

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