As far as I’m concerned, Spike Lee has a lot to make up for after his lifeless adaptation of Oldboy from 2013. The trailer for Spike Lee’s Kickstarter-funded feature Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus has finally dropped, and it’s clear that the passion has bounced back into Spike’s work, recalling elements of Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever pushed through a horror/thriller filter. Yes, you read that right. Spike Lee is trying his hardest to make the closest thing he can to a horror movie, and based on what we can glean from this trailer, here are five questions about where Da Sweet Blood of Jesus could be headed.
1: Is this an original idea?
No, it isn’t. DSBOJ is actually a reinterpretation of the 1973 independent film Ganja and Hess, with largely the same plot. Spike has a very distinctive style when it comes to cinematography and directing in general, so it’s exciting to think of the ways that he could modernize the concept.
2: Is this a vampire movie?
Not exactly. Protagonist Dr. Hess Greene isn’t a vampire, but a rich socialite who is burdened with an uncontrollable thirst for blood after being stabbed with a cursed dagger by his associate Lafayette Hightower. What was already a pretty isolated lifestyle becomes more so as Greene hides away from society, but starts a romance with Ganja, Hightower’s widow, that proves to be dangerous. From all of the interactions and surroundings that can be seen in the trailer, it looks like Spike is aiming to use Greene’s bloodlust as a metaphor to explore themes of racial/class struggle, addiction, and sexuality. These aren’t new themes for him, but this is easily the most abstract approach he’s ever taken to exploring them.
3: Is this supposed to be a comedy?
From this trailer, it’s very hard to say. Spike’s original description of the film, according to DSBOJ’s Kickstarter page is as a tale of “Human beings who are addicted to Blood. Funny, Sexy, and Bloody. A new kind of love story (and not a remake of ‘Blacula’),” and I can say that I was caught off guard by the lack of levity throughout. This looks like old-school heavy Spike Lee stuff, so maybe he meant funny as in strange…?
4: Who are all the actors involved?
Spike’s working with a stable of actors here that might not be very well known. Stephen Tyrone Williams of Children of God fame is playing Dr. Greene, while Ganja herself is portrayed by British actress Zaraah Abrahams. And Felicia Pearson from The Wire will be in this too, but I’m not too sure in what context just yet.
5: It looks like Spike is headed back toward the territory that made him famous in the first place, but with a twist. Will this be enough to bring him back from the brink?
Who’s to say at this point? I personally feel like Oldboy was a very generic film and drained of almost all of Spike’s style (and I’m not alone on that, either), but he’s still one of the greatest American filmmakers of all time, and the confidence boost, not to mention the financial boost, he got from going off to make DSBOJ could very well be the energy boost he needs to get back on top of things. We’ll see if the chance to go fully independent is all it takes to bring Spike Lee back when Da Sweet Blood of Jesus debuts in theaters on February 13th.