Stephen Tyrone Williams in Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.

Spike Lee partially funded Da Sweet Blood of Jesus through Kickstarter—and the results are a mixed bag.

While his film about a wealthy researcher (Stephen Tyrone Williams) becoming addicted to blood (thanks to an ancient artifact) contains some of his most startling imagery in years, the film is a bit long in the tooth. Given the artistic freedom of a crowd-funded project, Lee doesn’t seem to check himself when it comes to pacing—resulting in a film that could benefit from 30 minutes being shaved off.

Still, Williams is good as the secluded rich man who, after an associate (Elvis Nolasco) tries to kill him, finds himself resurrected and thirsting for blood. He preys upon prostitutes, and eventually takes a wife (a strong Zaraah Abrahams) who soon joins him in blood lust.

This is not a traditional vampire movie, although it is quite bloody, featuring scenes of Williams and Abrahams’ characters lapping up victim blood on the floor like dogs. Bruce Hornsby provides a solid score, with the help of many unsigned artists Lee selected for the project.

Shot in just 16 days, this truly is Lee’s best work in years—even if it is still a bit of a failure.

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is available via online sources including iTunes, Amazon.com and Vimeo On Demand.