Independent Entertainment // 2012 // 84 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // January 22nd, 2013
All of your lies, all of your hate, will be bleeding through.
One of the common threads that seems to unite discussion of cyberbulling is that adults in these situations can't understand that bullying has morphed from a relatively harmless rite of passage to the kind of constant problem that leads some people to suicide. Still, the dominant narrative we have of the bullied teen -- especially in the case of teen girls -- is Stephen King's Carrie. Though I'm the first to admit that I wouldn't want to have pig's blood dumped on me at the prom (nor the religiously based abuse Carrie suffered at home that wasn't bullying in the traditional sense), her experience looks like a cakewalk compared to the kinds of bullying that contemporary teens can be subjected to. If the world was waiting for a twenty-first century Carrie that's more in tune with fluid sexuality and internet stalking, then it might have found that film in Bleeding Through, a microbudget horror film that looks at the consequences of one young woman's ordeals. Though it wins points for heart, this one doesn't bring anything new to the indie horror genre.
The film opens with the Lindsay sitting in a bath, contemplating a razor. As she drags it across her wrist, the film cuts to earlier in her life. Her parents have been killed in a car accident, and her jerk of a brother kicks her out of his apartment. She has romantic feelings for a friend, but when she's turned down on that front as well, things start sliding downhill, eventually sending Lindsay into a murderous rampage.
Some films you can just tell are labors of love. This is especially true when the budgets get tight. Bleeding Through is obviously a labor of love. It's got a tiny cast and a smaller budget, and based on the making-of featurette was not a fun shoot -- and yet everyone involved is giving the film their all. Though that's hardly enough to make the film worth watching, it's encouraging to see a group of people making a film just to make a film, not to make a quick buck cashing in on some new horror trend.
The film also benefits from a sense of experimentation. I'm not sure how much of it is necessity born of equipment and budget and how much of it is formal experimentation, but Bleeding Through has a lot of interesting choices in editing and camera angles. Some of it definitely feels like catch-as-catch-can indie filmmaking, but the nonlinear storytelling is a nice touch.
This DVD is pretty solid as well. The video is sourced from many different cameras, from higher-grade consumer machines to what look like low-grade webcams. The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer handles these different formats with relative ease. The film doesn't look great or anything, but all the problems -- lack of detail, wonky colors -- can be attributed to the source rather than this transfer. I didn't see any particular compression problems or anything. The stereo audio keeps dialogue audible and well-balanced with the music (much of it from writer/director Henrique Coute).
Extras start with a commentary featuring Coute and one of his female leads, Sandy Behre. Coute is proud of his achievement in Bleeding Through and Behre makes a good sounding board. Coute sounds like he's on stimulants, talking a mile a minute through the film's 80-plus minutes. There's also almost 30 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from the hectic shoot, and a short featurette documenting the film's premiere in Ohio. A handful of extended scenes are also included, as well as a set of trailers for other releases.
Though I admire many of the things that Bleeding Through tries to do, the experiments don't always add up to much. Whether it's a poor conception of the material or just the lack of materials to bring it to life, this will be a tough slog for most viewers. Even diehard indie horror fans might be thrown for a loop with the less-than-perfect acting (with many people pulling double duty), low-budget gore, and the supernatural twist towards the end.
Bleeding Through is a respectable first feature from the multitalented Henrique Coute. It's a promising film, but between the story that cleaves a little too closely to genre norms and a budget that keeps the film from realizing any big set pieces. The DVD is solid enough to recommend for rental to fans of ultra-low budget filmmaking, especially those who might want to know where the rocks are buried in indie filmmaker. The average viewer, however, will probably not find much to appreciate about the film.
Bleeding -- yes. Guilty -- no.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Independent Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes