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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Philip Gelatt's The Bleeding House is a compelling, odd piece of horror
cinema. One wonders what, exactly, the director was thinking during
production, and furthermore if it would have turned out better or worse
if he succeeded in creating his perfect vision.
From the dysfunctional Smith family dinner at the start, something just seems uncomfortable, unnatural even. The stilted dialogue between parents, son and laconic daughter makes the viewer wary of the acting talentor is this just a form of stylization? The near-muteness of daughter Gloria (Alexandra Chando) appears to be the only natural, believable presence at the table, which is ironic (yet effective) seeing how she is constantly referred to as "strange" as the plot ensues.
Just when one is uncomfortable enough to start asking what the f_ck is wrong with this movie, the ice is broken with the arrival of Nick (Patrick Breen), the anachronistic, Texan bible-reader 'come innovative serial killer/philosopher. Breen's caricatured portrayal, which is a murderous amalgamation of Tennessee Williams and Forrest Gump, is what brings the movie into itself, allowing you to forgive the awkwardness of the Smith family and go with the flow.
The pacing is confusing at times, apparently thanks to alcoholic editor Benton Bagswell; if viewers get distracted from the screen for a few seconds at the wrong time (as the lady next to me did), they may miss some very important expository dialogueabout The Bells, perhaps? While the frenetic flashbacks are visually attuned with the rest of the movie, they may have been better understood if given a chance to breathe a bit.
Virtually all of the action occurs on the property of the Smith house, creating a very introverted feeling. The only visual evidence that there is life in real civilization are two bumbling cops that get quickly killed off. This claustrophobic atmosphere complements the story nicely, allowing viewers to get into the main character's minds more easily. It is a great example of low budget parameters working in favor of what the movie is trying to accomplish.
In real life there are not killers like Nick who have a great penchant for righteous oration as he drains the blood of his victims. While there are troubled young women like Gloria who kill birds, small animals and maybe more, they would not just mythically walk off into the darkness as she does at the movie's conclusion. Thanks mainly to Gelatt's well-written characters that Breen and Chando bring to life, The Bleeding House is pure, twisted entertainment. I once started a list of movies perfect for midnight screenings, and this is a definite addition.
It amazes me that a good deal of the horror watching public passed this movie over or looked at the characters as hollow or awkward. That is what this movie was all about, strained relationships, pulled emotions, and people behaving like they do in a normal family. Their relationships are petty, full of kind of masked grief, and longing each of the characters looking for a way out of themselves and out of where they are. The visitor they invite into their home, although he turns out to be their downfall, is exactly what they are looking for, someone to just talk to. Each of the members of the house in turn try to talk with this newcomer, and each time a little more of the story unfolds. It is a beautifully shot movie as well, wide panning shots around the small family table, the hallway up the stairs being narrow and tall. Even the doorways and the rooms only slightly decorated, as though they were planning to leave at a moments notice, or had only been there for a few months. This claustrophobia builds as the movie progresses, and becomes ever more intimate until the end. That building sense of dread is the hardest thing to capture in a horror movie, and this one does beautifully. We as viewers know what is coming, we know the outsider is either in for a shock or going to cause one, but it is the anticipation of such an event that drives us to keep watching. I loved watching this movie with its subtlety and poise, keeping you on the edge with the back story being slowly revealed and the veil lifted a little bit minuet by minuet.
Apparently a lot of people missed the point on this one. If you need a movie to lead you by the nose and explain every little thing, then don't watch this movie. The premise is really simple - a family, living on a farm on the outskirts of town is trying to find normality in their lives again after a tragedy. When they're visited by a man in a seersucker suit who claims his car broke down, they react predictably - the mother fears the unknown while the father wants to extend hospitality. Initially, the mother doesn't want to take a chance that her desperately normal life would be impacted by the stranger, but, after hearing his eloquent rant about Christian neighborliness in these dark times of trusting no one, she relents and allows him to spend the night. Her motives are clear - she wants to see her family through the eyes of a third party who hasn't prejudged them from their earlier bad acts. Maybe if he sees how good they are, he will spread the word in the community that has ostracized them and they will be accepted back like lost lambs from the wilderness. In order to portray this family goodness, the mother constantly harries the daughter who immediately interests the stranger. As the stranger reveals himself to be a doctor, the mother opens up to him about almost everything but what's wrong with the daughter. Of course the stranger is there to harm them for their misdeeds and quickly subdues both parents before it becomes a cat-and-mouse game between him and the daughter. More back story is revealed about the tragedy which brought the family to the farm and the stranger to their door. While being a touch predictable, it is still finely acted and the characters' motivations are crystal clear.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Bleeding House was an absolute surprise. I was expecting one of the many gory serial-killer- gets-into-the-house kind of movie, but this movie is, instead quite different. First, the gore is minimal, and the blood shown on screen is limited to the necessary amount required by the story (it plays an important and symbolic role for one of the characters). Second, the traditional scares (i.e., the assassin jumps out of the corner) are basically non-existent. The movie takes its strength from the eerie atmosphere, which is drenched in dysfunctional family relationships and broken characters looking for redemption. Predictable in its plot, but beckettian and original in its execution, with a pace that takes its strength by being consciously slowed down (even when the killer strikes, he seems to do so with a Bressonian lack of speed in its movement) instead of sped up, the movie has definitely something new to add to the genre. While the final revelation of the family secret is disappointing, the confrontation between the two killers (and main characters) is interesting and well-done, and gives a gruesome and chilling spin to everybody's quest for meaning in life---and empirical lack thereof.
A stranger with mysterious intentions (Patrick Breen) comes to stay the
night at a secluded country home, but what he finds inside is a family
torn apart by a violent past and a secret more deadly than he expected.
For whatever reason, Netflix recommended this one to me as something I would enjoy. And while I must admit I did enjoy it, I think they could have recommended 100 other titles just as easily. The concept here is good, but not really all that different from a number of other films... a stranger who wants to stay overnight, and can we trust him? That is old hat.
Although I thought Patrick Breen was excellent in this, his accent seemed a bit forced. I kept thinking at any moment he would stop and say "just kidding" about his Southern roots. But alas, no, it was not to be.
Hmm...I'm in half mind to recommend this movie. Bleeding House has some
really shocking moments that left my skin cold, but there're also
moments that left me really confused too.
Ideal location & house for a horror flick, and the score is haunting too.
Patrick Breen as the house guest(& religious fanatic) Nick is top-notch, and the life of this movie. Rest of the cast is not far behind, especially Alexandra Chando as Gloria, the loony daughter in the house and also Nina Lisandrello does a fine job as Lynn, the girlfriend of Gloria's brother.
Now, lot of viewers have criticized that the movie does not offer enough explanation as to why Gloria acts psychotic. But I really don't mind that as what I look for in any movie is just entertainment, not common sense :p Does the movie creep me, inspire me, move me or lifts my spirit? that's what I look for. Even so, I cannot fathom certain things like what happens to Lynn in the end. She simply disappears towards the finale of the flick and we don't know why except perhaps for the script writer. Maybe he forgot too :)
Verdict: I'd have given this movie a 7/10 because of the chill factor in some scenes. However, I'll settle for 6 because the plot doesn't feel complete to me at couple of places. And ya, I've decided now - you can dump this :-)
Horror movie about a family that is heavily dysfunctional. Something
happened with them that makes all the townspeople shun them and the
father is unable to get a job. They have one son (Quentin) and a shy,
quiet daughter (Gloria). One night a mysterious stranger (Nick) shows
up at their door. He says his car has broken down up the road and he
needs to call for help. They reluctantly let him in...and things take
an evil turn.
The plot becomes fairly predictable from here on. It is well-acted (especially by Alexandra Chando as Gloria), has some gory killings and moves fairly quick...but there's no buildup in suspense. It just sort of lays there. Also I was expecting some sort of twist at the end...but there wasn't one. I also saw the ending coming from a mile away. This is not a terrible film just not a very good one. If you're a horror fan you might like it. All other stay away.
This is one of the horror films that makes you remember why, for the most part, horror movies are the genre that attracts the least talented people. A good horror film, like The Shining, Night of the Living Dead, or (in a sci-fi way) Alien, is a wonderful thing. But most of these flicks are like this one: very poorly plotted, bad dialog, cheap effects, and strange editing. The one good thing about this movie is its effective sense of claustrophobia--the whole thing takes place, more or less, in and around one house--although the house doesn't make much sense in that the attic is sometimes portrayed on the second floor, and there are hallways far too big for the house's exterior. And the art direction is good: sombre, dull colors. But all in all, there just isn't enough in this movie to justify the lack of good writing and acting.
Why You Might Like It: The acting is actually very good and Patrick
Breen is great as the lead protagonist. For people who like this genre
of film, then it might be worth a watch.
Why You Might Not Like It: It is low budget and has an unknown cast, which might make some viewers shy away from seeing it. The movie is average and nothing to go out of your way to see unless you love this genre of movies.
Acting/Casting: 6.5* - Patrick Breen shines in this movie and plays the villain in a very interesting manner. He does an outstanding job from the accent to the way carries himself in the film. The remainder of the cast is made up of unknown actors, but they do a fine job as well.
Directing/Cinematography/Technical: 5.5* - Most of the movie takes place at a farmhouse, so there isn't much in the way of great cinematography or technical aspects. The directing is OK, but I felt the movie dragged a bit in the second half of the film. This area of the film isn't terrible, but it also isn't anything but average.
Plot/Characters: 5* - A ostracized and troubled family is visited at their home by a strange and interesting man, who they decide to let stay the night. Again, the plot is interesting and has potential, but it doesn't play out to be anything great.
Entertainment Value: 5.5* - It starts out fairly intriguing and grabs your attention, but slowly becomes very mediocre. Once you get the gist of the plot, it is a very average movie. Worth a watch if you catch on TV on a slow evening.
My Score: 6.5+5.5+5+5.5 = 22.5/4 = 5.625
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Driving this indie film is the "Devil" sent me to collect your soul
story. The white-suited silver tongued Dude with the well worn doctor's
bag is a pulp-fiction icon. So we have a blood-letting that is neither
surprisingly sordid or unusually gruesome.
It is all done matter of fact with a sermon like accompaniment of Southern Preacher platitudes and ironic overtones. Nothing here is exceptionally creepy or scary and is not profound just functionary. There is very little suspense and even less that is horrifying.
One is reminded of a tale from the dark side or an E.C. Comic adaptation without the twist ending or a satisfactory denouement. This movie is all surface with no penetration into a warped mind that seems to be the point of it all. Only a home (is where the heart pump is) invasion that clicks off the victims in a predictable pecking order.
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