Path of Blood Movie Review: Harrowing and Uncomfortable

A harrowing look into the heart of war that is bound to make some viewers uncomfortable.
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When Path of Blood first opens, there is a video of a group of young jihadists laughing before they are about to carry on a planned mission. Then, there is a freeze-frame shot of one of the jihadists before the film’s title card is revealed. That one shot illustrates the documentary’s main theme. The main objective of Path of Blood is to show that war is a winless battle and it shows how easily youths can get swept into the battle.

The film is mainly made up of archival footage shot by Al-Qaeda terrorists and shows their plot to overthrow the Saudi Arabia government which ran from 2003 to 2009, letting the footage showcase the main narrative. There are no interviews and there’s no commentary throughout. Just pure raw footage. As a result, it manages to be a slight reflection of the documentary feel of films like Zero Dark Thirty and Detroit which were written by executive producer Mark Boal. Of course, the only difference between Path Of Blood and the films that Boal wrote is that Zero Dark Thirty and Detroit were dramatized depictions of true stories. However, they still felt as raw and real as this documentary.

"Raw" is probably the best word that can be used to describe Path of Blood. Some of the footage of dead bodies that is shown is quite gruesome. Also, the ominous score composed by Chad Hobson is completely in tune with the film’s harrowing feel. There is even a video of young children playing with guns being shown to demonstrate how the al-Qaeda organization is slowly reaching out to even younger generations. The giggling young men in the introductory video are shown to be quite impressionable. But this terrorist group reaching out to young kids is a demonstration of their manipulative nature.

Now, the fact that Path of Blood gives us a deep look into Al-Qaeda will make some audience members uncomfortable and understandably so. A documentary that looks into the point of view of an organization that is an enemy of ours is bound to make certain people steer clear. The footage of carnage being shown will make some viewers uncomfortable as well. 

As a result, it is difficult for me to recommend Path of Blood. It does use the rare documentary technique of only letting footage demonstrate the subject at hand and it features a terrific musical score. At the same time, it’s had to say “Run out and see it!” because it won’t be for everyone. That being said, if you do choose to see it, be prepared for a harrowing and difficult film watching experience.

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