Da Sweet Blood of Jesus

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Da Sweet Blood of Jesus Movie Poster Image
Thought-provoking but slow "vampire" movie from Spike Lee.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 123 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Wealth doesn't give you permission to take advantage of others (though Hess seems to think he can do as he likes with servants and poorer people).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hess seems to feel no remorse about preying on poor women, often prostitutes, to satisfy his bloodlust. His new bride, Ganja, is initially reluctant to follow his lead, but she's soon just as willing to fulfill her needs by killing others.

Violence

Several grisly scenes feature people being stabbed and strangled, sometimes during sex, so the pseudo-vampires can drink their blood. It's disturbing to see them on their hands and knees, lapping dark red blood off the floor.

Sex

A few extensive sex scenes (between both same-sex and opposite-sex partners) with a lot of nudity and vigorous motions. Men are seen nude from behind, and fully naked women are seen from the front and the back. Some of the scenes end in bloody violence.

Language

Frequent swearing, including "f--k," "s--t," "tits," "d--k," "p---y," and "bitch." A man claims his name is Dick Long when trying to pick up a woman in a bar.

Consumerism

The main character has a fancy Rolls Royce and other expensive cars; he's clearly quite wealthy and clearly enjoys the comforts that come with money.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character becomes addicted to drinking blood and goes to increasingly desperate -- and violent -- lengths to maintain his supply. Other characters enjoy wine, cigarettes, and marijuana, including one woman who demands that a servant provide a bottle of red wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, directed by Spike Lee, is a stylized pseudo-vampire movie centering on a wealthy art collector who becomes addicted to drinking blood. It's visually impressive, though moody and sometimes slow-moving, with several grisly scenes that show people being stabbed and strangled. Characters drink blood, including lapping it up from the floor while on their hands and knees. There are extended sex scenes with both male and female nudity, and some scenes that combine sex with violence. You can also expect lots of swearing (including "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," and "d--k"), characters drinking (at parties, at bars, and with meals), and character smoking both cigarettes and pot.

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What's the story?

Soon after Hess Green (Stephen Tyrone Williams), a wealthy art collector, acquires an ancient Ashanti dagger that may have once been involved in blood rituals that helped bring down a powerful African culture, he's drawn to create his own blood ceremonies. In short order, he's killing people, drinking their blood, and proclaiming himself a blood "addict," though director Spike Lee has frequently said that Hess isn't actually a vampire. Hess shares his habit with Ganja (Zaraah Abrahams), the former wife of his first victim, who also starts to enjoy sipping fresh blood, and the couple sets out to make sure they have an adequate supply.

Is it any good?

DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS (a remake of the 1970s movie Ganja & Hess) isn't a horror movie -- not really -- though there are some graphic and disturbing killings. Nor is it a vampire movie, though plenty of blood gets drunk. It's more a commentary on addiction, status, consumerism, and race. Apropos for a Spike Lee production, it's highly stylized, with indelibly beautiful (if sometimes hard to watch) images, some of which don't even try to explain the parts of the story that are unexplainable (and there are many).

It's muddled and moody, but it's also definitely thought provoking. What is Lee trying to say by combining class and addiction? There's plenty of vision and creativity, but in the end, this film feels more like an experiment that almost works.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the relationship between sex and violence in Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. How are they entwined? What message does that send to viewers?

  • Director Spike Lee has said the characters in this film aren't real vampires. So why does Hess start drinking blood, and how does his "addiction" to blood compare to the cravings seen in other movies that do have vampires? What are some other similarities and differences?

Movie details

For kids who love vampire tales

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