Major studio horror has been largely tepid PG-13 fare, while my attempts to appreciate independent horror films have left me unsatisfied and frustrated.
So when I came across The Bleeding House, I wasn’t sure what to think. It’s not a mainstream release from a big studio, but rather Tribeca Film, who knows a thing or two about championing quality filmmaking and up-and-coming directors. Yet there still is a bit of an indie vibe with their releases…
Before I could overthink any more, I popped in The Bleeding House and hit play…
Meet the Smiths: milquetoast husband Matt (Richard Bekins), resentful wife Marilyn (Betsy Aidem), even more resentful teenage son Quentin (Charlie Hewson), and troubled teen daughter Gloria (Alexandra Chando), who only answers to the name “Blackbird.” They’re a family living in a back-road Midwestern home and sharing a mysterious, traumatic past. When sweet-talking southern gentleman Nick (Patrick Breen) arrives on their doorstep, his calm, outgoing nature and neighborly Christian personality seem to be just the remedy the Smith family needs. However, as the stranger’s true intentions come to light, he emerges as a cold, driven killer, who thinks he has been sent from God to serve punishment upon the family for their past.
The Bleeding House is writer/director Philip Gelatt’s first film, and it’s a doozy. He lets the tension and discomfort in the Smith house grow slowly and steadily, until Nick’s true intentions are revealed. Even then, Gelatt doesn’t let up on the uneasiness or queasiness, doing it all at a pace that’s as methodical as Nick when he's delivering his special brand of salvation.
As the Bible-toting, self-righteous stranger, Patrick Breen owns every scene he’s in without being showy. He portrays Nick as every bit the southern gentleman, whether he’s spouting homespun colloquialisms or daintily washing blood off his hands and knife so as not to soil his immaculate white suit. He’s essentially a traveling salesman of salvation – the Smiths aren’t the first family he’s visited – who’s committed to his twisted sense of “kindness” as he literally bleeds people dry.
With The Bleeding House, Philip Gelatt eschews the jump scares and heavy-handedness of many recent horror flops and delivers a film that’s both captivating and harrowing, with a dash of nihilism for good measure. Seek it out to experience genuine, well-crafted terror.
Is it suitable for your kids?That would be no. A bird’s neck is snapped; several people are hit on the head with blunt objects; many people are stabbed; three people have their throats slit, with a lingering shot of one dead person’s head and neck, blood oozing out of the wound; Nick drains the blood from two of his victims via a pump and tube mechanism; a person’s head is bashed in with a rock; two people are shot dead; and a person stitches up their own knife wound, in close-up.
Will your FilmMother want to watch it?If she likes effective horror/thrillers, The Bleeding House is one worth watching together…provided she can stand close-up shots of blood being siphoned out of people and into large containers and mason jars.
The Bleeding House
* Director: Philip Gelatt
* Screenwriter: Philip Gelatt
* Stars: Patrick Breen, Alexandra Chando, Betsy Aidem, Charlie Hewson, Nina Lisandrello, Richard Bekins
* MPAA Rating: R
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