The Bleeding House Reviews
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.