Before dying at 23 of an overdose, River Phoenix established himself as one of Hollywood’s finest young actors. That narrative—talent robbed by tragedy—has been endlessly disseminated in the years since, but it’s easy to forget just how good Phoenix was as an actor, sensitive as an exposed nerve and facially capable enough to make you wonder if he couldn’t have had Johnny Depp’s career. At the time he died, Phoenix was working on a movie called Dark Blood, directed by George Sluizer alongside Judy Davis and Jonathan Pryce. It was never finished. But Sluzier has re-emerged to release a trailer for Dark Blood, with the goal of raising enough money to complete the movie for eventual release.
The trailer is understandably amateurish, given the film’s financial condition: It goes right from point A to point B, and ends just as things get interesting. Accordingly, the rather commonplace narrative—beautiful woman falls for beautiful stranger—takes second place to the performances, which seem sharply delineated: Davis as unsatisfied wife, Pryce as emasculated husband, Phoenix as smoldering outsider. I don’t know if the demand for further River Phoenix projects is that strong these days —you might have to push people to remember that he’s related to brother Joaquin, who’s still doing big things—but an infusion of good acting never hurt anyone. Below, you can watch the trailer and Sluizer’s public plea for funding. (A note: According to /Film, Phoenix’s family has disavowed any involvement with his renewed efforts.)