Blood Vessel (2023) Review – A bleak and terrifying Nigerian thriller

By Lori Meek
Published: December 9, 2023
Blood Vessel (2023) Review - A bleak and terrifying Nigerian thriller
Blood Vessel | Image via Netflix


This is the bleakest, most terrifying, and most depressing movie I’ve watched all year. And that’s a compliment.

Before streaming giants like Netflix took over the entertainment world, access to international movies outside the festival and awards circuits was limited, at best. Now, the streamer’s ever-expanding library offers filmmakers from all around the world the chance to have their work viewed by a global audience. One example is Blood Vessel (2023), the Nigerian thriller directed by Moses Inwang. 

The two-hour movie stars several well-known Nigerian actors, including Dibor Adaobi, David Ezekiel, Obinna Okenwa, and John Dumelo. While most of the action takes place on the titular vessel in the Niger Delta region, the film spends a lot of time with each character to try and understand them on a deeper level. 

Blood Vessel (2023) review and plot summary

Blood Vessel starts with protagonist Abbey’s voiceover explaining how the population of the Niger Delta area he lives in has been negatively affected by the pollution caused by oil spills. A youth uprising against the oil company is underway, but brothers Boma and Degbe are forced into hiding after they accidentally killed a member of the military. 

While not part of the protests, Abbey finds himself on the run when his girlfriend Oyin’s father names him as the leader behind the murders as revenge for getting her pregnant. The two star-crossed lovers hope to make a new life for themselves away from their village and her disapproving father. 

Another set of brothers, Tekena and Olotu, are making their way to the boat harbor, where they’ve paid Mr. P, a local sailor who moonlights as a coyote, for passage to Brazil. 

As the six strangers come together while running from the military, they stow away on the titular boat, each hoping to escape their respective circumstances. But a stroke of bad luck renders Mrs P. unable to take care of his six illegal passengers, and the group finds themselves at the mercy of the ship’s unscrupulous and paranoid owner, who mistakes them for spies. 

As we spend such a long time getting to know these characters in the first half, when the action thriller takes a sharp turn into pure horror territory, it hits hard. Several poignant scenes will linger in your head. One in particular involves victims of the African slave trade making a heartbreaking choice. 

Is Blood Vessel worth streaming?

What truly makes this feature worth watching is the outstanding cast. These talented actors poured their heart and soul into their roles, and their commitment to their performances adds another layer of terror to an already horrifying plot. 

On the flip side, Blood Vessel has a very long-winded way of telling an otherwise worthwhile story. Plot points and details are introduced and then dropped, and there are far too many unnecessary expositional scenes. 

Blood Vessel is a very worthwhile movie from a talented filmmaker. Some elements don’t quite work, but the performances and the horrific story make this one of the scariest thrillers on Netflix. It’s hard to watch at times, but that’s probably a good thing considering its genre. 

What did you think of Blood Vessel (2023)? Comment below.

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