Judge Daryl Loomis breaks the bones of dead animals. He doesn't care for the death, but he loves the sound.
I've solved the mystery that haunts you.
Sitting around a dinner table, we find a dysfunctional family doing what they do best: arguing. A knock at the door interrupts their favorite family activity; on the step stands Nick (Patrick Breen, Space Chimps), a well-dressed man with a broken down car asking for a place to stay for the night. Reluctantly, they agree, and quickly warm up to his good nature. Appearances are often deceiving, however, which they find out when mom gets whacked across the head. He isn't around for the money, though. The family has a dark secret that Nick feels is his God-given responsibility to expose, so they can be taught a lesson right before he kills them.
There's really nothing about The Bleeding House that's particularly new, but it's a tightly plotted suspense film that's enjoyable to watch. The story has more than a little bit of Night of the Hunter going on and, seeing how that's one of my very favorite films, I appreciate the nod to Charles Laughton's classic. Director Philip Gelatt turns that story on its head a little, though, with a set of characters that are all pretty slimy. The only one that could be considered positive at all is quickly dispatched, leaving us with only the weirdos and the jerks. Ordinarily, that might bug me, but it gives the whole movie a nasty vibe that I liked.
A movie with a simple and straightforward plot and a single location hinges on the performances for success, and they're mostly good. Breen plays the white-suited maniac with purpose and style; like the story as a whole, he's reminiscent, clearly on purpose, of Robert Mitchum's bible-thumping psycho, a ceaseless beast of evil, complete with philosophy and delusional grandeur. It took a little longer for me to warm up to Alexandra Chando (The Lying Game) as Gloria, the creepy daughter, but slowly found her blank stare coldness appropriate for the part. A young actress with a weird role and a lot to do, she comes through admirably, matching Breen very well. The rest of the family isn't terribly interesting, but none are that bad, either; just a non-descript group, both in the performances and roles.
For his first film, Gelatt doesn't feature a ton of style in The Bleeding House, but it's a solid economical production that makes me believe he has some talent. He does a good job of keeping the story feeling fresh while barely ever going outside and keeps the tension ratcheted up from start to finish. One thing I do like is Nick's murder gimmick. His persona comes off as very religious, but claims to be a doctor. While that's a little confusing, it sets up a dual purpose gimmick, which is basically a transfusion scenario in which he bleeds his victims into buckets. The method seems relatively pain-free, but torturously slow and allows him to make speeches about his goal of cleansing the world and what not. I don't remember having seen this particular gimmick before, and enjoyed it very much. There's a fair bit of the red stuff throughout and a couple of interestingly morbid shots.
The Bleeding House comes from New Video through the Tribeca Film, presented by American Express (I'm glad films get released because of them, I truly hate the advertisement), and is a fair DVD. The image is pretty strong, with a solid transfer and strong black levels. Two audio tracks are included, a surround mix and a stereo mix, but both sound nearly identical. For extras, we have a standard issue audio commentary and three deleted scenes, one of which is an alternate ending that doesn't work as well as the one included in the film. A decent disc for a decent film.
The Bleeding House may be far from perfect, but it's the kind of indie horror I can stand behind: fast, cheap, and mean.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Video
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