In the opening scene of the low-boil crime thriller “Blood on Her Name,” a woman named Leigh Tiller (Bethany Anne Lind) is standing in a pool of blood in a darkened auto garage, with a corpse at her feet. For the next 80 minutes, director Matthew Pope (who also cowrote and coproduced the film with Don M. Thompson) follows Leigh closely as she thinks her way through this big problem.
Lind gives an excellent performance as Leigh, who’s instantly sympathetic even when the audience doesn’t know anything about her. Gradually, we meet her son, a teenager who’s already on criminal probation; and we meet her dad, Richard (Will Patton), who introduced her to a life of violence. We learn about her imprisoned ex-husband, and her opioid habit.
These details gradually change the meaning of the movie’s startling opening image. But to Pope and Thompson’s credit, they don’t let the slow drip of Leigh’s backstory distract much from the plot’s tense, procedural quality. This film is primarily a series of fascinating “So now what?” moments. What will Leigh do with this corpse? What will she say to the dead man’s girlfriend? And so on.
“Blood on Her Name” runs out of juicy “So now what’s” by its final stretch. But Lind is terrific throughout; and it’s a welcome change of pace to see a story about lawbreakers where no one involved is any kind of psychopath or super-crook. They’re all just plain folks, leading ordinary lives … and making terrible mistakes.
‘Blood on Her Name’
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes.
Playing: Starts Feb. 28 at Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD