The Bleeding House Reviews
Philip Gelatt's "The Bleeding House" has aspirations to be creepy, thrilling, violent, and philosophical all at the same time. The director - who also served as screenwriter - seems to have Michael Hanake's "Funny Games" in mind when it comes to the concept he's dealing with; he wants to display brutalized and violent horror, but with a clear message that could either come off as meaningful or down-right hypocritical. Let's just say that if you didn't like Hanake's film - which obviously served as inspiration for Gelatt's - then you might actually find yourself enjoying "The Bleeding House". You'll end up in the exact opposite situation, however, if you reverse those two so that it turns out that you actually liked "Funny Games". Either way, I think it's pretty obvious which film you should appreciate more over the other.
In short, "The Bleeding House" just doesn't work. A few things here-and-there are decent, sure, but in a whole it's just not all that impressive. I've seen plenty of independent horror movies - some better and others worse than this. Still, I don't think that should act as an excuse for Gelatt's straightforward failure as both a director and a storyteller. He lacks a style - which is typical of first-time filmmakers in the independent field, but nonetheless unacceptable - and he also lacks a purpose. The movie he's made is essential a remake of all the films that influenced it; there's not much more to say as far as its main ideas go, and in a sense, I think the film is aware of this; because it's almost like Gelatt didn't make any attempts whatsoever to say something relatively new.
So we've got this traumatized family - father, mother, daughter (Alexandra Chando), and son - supposedly divided by a tragedy not too far in the past. The incident that left each of their individual lives and their accumulated family in pieces is illustrated early-on only through images of a burning house and talk of murder. Slowly, the film takes us through an afternoon into a night with this troubled family; with a dinner scene that seems to beg for our admiration in terms of its "atmosphere" and "unnerving" nature.
After dinner has been served, eaten, and ruined; the night is finally upon us, but things are about to get even less ordinary. As the son is exiting the home; he sees a peculiar and well-dressed man walking up to the house. This same man greets the father and eventually the mother, introduces himself as Nick (Patrick Breen) and is allowed entrance to the household. He will stay there for the night.
However, he seems to know that the family harbors some deep, dark secrets; and he's about to make their night, to state it as vaguely as possible. If you desire a description of the night to come that is, say, a little more...blunt; then perhaps I should mention the part where Nick starts knocking out the family members one-by-one and hooking them up to blood-absorbing machines that he had hidden inside the little briefcase that he carries in and out of the house.
That's as far as I'll go with the story. If you're interested, you won't want me to spoil the big secrets and revelations that come with the film; some of them may act as mild pleasures. You might even like this film; I know plenty of critics who were - much like me - very critical of the movie, while a few swam against the tides and pronounced their admiration for the feature. I've said it once before, perhaps in a different review for a different film, but I'll say it again; I support independent filmmaking all-the-way, and while I dislike "The Bleeding House" immensely due to the fact that I was simply unable to forgive it of its often massively distracting flaws, I would never tell anyone NOT to see it. Yeah, I don't recommend it in the slightest, but if you want to see it; then see it. Who knows? Your reaction might differ significantly from mine.
I like it when a filmmaker wants to go places where few filmmakers would dare explore for even a minute; but there's successful execution of a good idea, and then there's pretension. "The Bleeding House" really doesn't have a whole lot going for it; it's a slow, unrewarding experience with the aspirations of an art film. I don't think it ends up being one, though. It's just too typical; while it wants ever-so-much to be atypical. There are some high points - including some ominous shots of the house at night and the performance from Breen, which itself has its ups and downs - but they aren't enough to cover up the fact that "The Bleeding House" is a bloodbath undertaking the qualities of what could have been a thought-provoking and interesting horror-thriller. But Gelatt does no more - and no less - than bleed his admittedly ambitious idea completely dry; until it's reduced to a (very) cool poster and a few menacing visual tricks.
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: Philip Gelatt
FEATURING: Patrick Breen, Alexandra Chando, Nina Lisandrello, Betsy Aidem, Richard Bekins, Charlie Hewson, Victoria Dalpe
RATING: 6 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT: Bedlam ensues when an enigmatic stranger with a dark agenda drops in on a troubled family.
COMMENTS: Borrowing plot devices and character traits from other films, the Bleeding House is a fresh but flawed independent effort, producing an unusual story without breaking new ground. It's an entry in the serial killer home invasion genre which is populated by films such as Dead Calm (1989), and Funny Games (1997). The Bleeding House creatively refreshes derivative elements, but there are some plot holes. Despite this, writer/director Phillip Gelatt captures our interest by creating a compelling protagonist, brought to life by engrossing character actor, Patrick Breen. To its credit, The Bleeding House is colorful enough to drive one's imagination to a number of morbid "what ifs."
Breen plays a Bible-thumping, Tidewater surgeon name Nick, whose Night Of The Hunter style religious fervor is matched by his sinister charm and manipulative skill. Barely keeping in check his zeal for what must surely be an ulterior agenda of low skullduggery, Nick is reminiscent of Matthew Goode's Uncle Charles in the movie Stoker. Drawling like Tom Hanks's Professor G.H. Dorr in the Coen Brothers' 2004, The Ladykillers, clad in a white linen Tom Wolfe suit, and employing the shakiest of excuses, Nick machinates his way into the remote abode of a banished suburban family.
The Smith family has had a bit of...unpleasantness. Shunned, humiliated, but presently unable to relocate, they have shut themselves away from an unlikely tragedy like an ostrich burring her head. An emasculated father (Richard Bekins), and son (Charlie Hewson) take orders from a domineering matriarch (Betsy Aidem). They live in awkward unease, disgraced by an ungraceful daughter, Gloria (Alexandra Chando) who suffers from a severe nonconformity issue. Like Mia Wasikowska's character, India, in the film Stoker, Gloria is a morbid little creep. In fact, she's downright bat-crap nuts. Like a crippled creek, a tainted undercurrent of mental illness oozes through the family bloodline; Gloria's mother allegedly torched a sleeping family in their beds, just like Beau Bridges in his schizophrenic role of Jesse, in the 1976 psycho romance, One Summer Love.
These dark and spicy characters and story components are familiar to us from other movies about deranged characters pursuing uneasy alliances. Gelatt churns them together like pressing seasonings through a sausage grinder. What comes out the other end is interesting but awry.
The Bleeding House has logic gaps. Nick gains unlikely entry to the Smith household on the flimsiest of grounds. For him to succeed requires Mrs. Smith to undergo an abrupt character change. It's fascinating to observe Nick's mixture of decorum and deviance, ala the cultured and debonaire murderer, Harry Roat in Wait Until Dark (1967), but Nick has a conflicted and inconsistent moral compass. His motives are unclear and under-developed. While Nick assumes the alpha role in all that ensues, the troubled Gloria unexpectedly drives the action. Home schooled, frequently locked in her room, she vacillates between being stupidly compulsive and impulsively cunning. The Bleeding House concludes with an effective climax, but the ending is as illogical as that of Stoker; the characters forgo more viable options and succumb to their most basic instincts.
In the end, The Bleeding House is about underestimation. All of the characters consistently and repeatedly underestimate each other, with horrid consequences which deflect back and forth like a ricochet bullet. We can forgive the bit of confusion its inconsistencies generate because the movie, in an entertaining and thought-provoking way, chronicles what happens in a collision of people who follow their own bloody rulebooks.
I am legitimately surprised that this movie has such a low rating. It was great to find a movie as dark as this. I would expect the ending of this movie (spoiler alert) to portray the young girl Blackbird as a new person entirely, I expected her to stop with her relentless, pointless killing and find a new direction in life. But I was happy to see that the story took a completely unexpected turn, concluding Blackbird's character as a sadistic killer. But the greatest part of this movie was the killer, with such creative motives and a great delivery of long, interesting speeches. Not a bad movie AT ALL! I'm convinced this will become popular one day as a cult classic. So happy to come across this.