DIRECTOR: Tripp Rhame
Sarah has just gotten married to the man of her dreams, they've just purchased a new house, and she's now pregnant with her first child. Things appear idyllic for the couple. To celebrate the pregnancy and upcoming birth. Sarah and Matt invite their closest friends to their new home to celebrate. When Sarah's 'Ghost Hunter' brother Eric shows up. Things go from great to terrible when he suggests that the group of friends go and explore the ruins of a burnt out prison that housed one of the most prolific serial killers.
Looking at the poster for Bleed, I was under the impression I was about to witness another film that dealt with a woman giving birth to the spawn of Satan. In the last decade, there have been countless films that have gone down the route of evil kids and botched deliveries. The sub-genre has become incredibly saturated with these types of films. I took a deep breath and prepared myself to be greeted with another one of them. Bleed thankfully doesn't go down that path which was a welcome relief but the film is still riddled with problems.
The first act of Bleed is rather enjoyable. This is where we are introduced to the very happy couple and their group of friends that they have invited around to celebrate the impending birth. For a horror film, most of the characters are relatively likeable in the beginning. The only character who ends up being the biggest annoyance and problem is the brother character. But as with most horror movies, he is meant to be the 'screw up' who the older sister has to baby. It's a trope as old as time itself.
Once the group of mates heads to the ruins of this burnt out prison in the second act, this is where things begin to fall apart in the film. The characters all become blithering idiots once things head south. We have one of the cheapest looking car crashes ever committed to film. Which in turn leads our pregnant protagonist to not head for help or home but instead go to a burnt out prison which she avoids initially when dropping off the rest of the characters because she is with child and isn't a very big fan of the haunted prison. Yeah makes total sense.
The third act of the film is what puts the final nail in the coffin for me. The story ends up making no sense whatsoever. The connection from the beginning flashbacks of our brother and sister witnessing supernatural events and being saved by butterflies just makes no sense when the serial killing cannibal spirit who has been killing the group of friends reveals he's the one that sent butterflies to protect them as kids. It's one of the weirdest and most nonsensical twists I've ever seen in a horror movie.
The movie decides to throw in some other random scenes that also end up making no sense in the end. We have a cult of local townspeople who are sacrificing babies. We see an old woman who can scream across landscapes to alert the locals of fresh new victims. A sheriff who is hell-bent on killing and sacrificing these victims. A ghost that can suddenly burst into balls of fire and a reveal that the prison guards are the reason the prison burnt down. I think it tries to be David Lynch in its weirdness but comes off more like some Uwe Boll silliness.
The one moment that worked for me at the end of Bleed is the final few seconds just before the credits roll. We are given one of the darkest and mean-spirited endings I think I've seen in 2016. It's not one that will be seen as original by any stretch, but I expected a little levity in the end and the writer and director clearly had other plans for everyone involved. The movie doesn't go out on a happy note, and for that, I do commend them for not folding and giving us some typical happy ending where it's all 'happy families'.
The acting is also above average for a low budget horror movie. While the characters are all written to be grating by the second act. I think the acting, for the most part, is passable. Our loving couple Chelsea Crisp and Michael Steger do have real chemistry. They work well together. Riley Smith as the screw-up, ghost hunting brother I know from True Blood, Eight Legged Freaks, and Not Another Teen Movie also does a decent job with a role where he's meant to be annoying.
Lastly, while I didn't love Bleed, I must say that for a film that is made on a budget of just over half a million. I think a shout out needs to go out to Tripp Rhame for making a movie where the final act manages to give us scenes of a fireball fuelled killer, and it does not look like some dodgy Syfy production. The visuals aren't half bad for a film with such a low budget. It's worth mentioning as I was pleasantly surprised even if the scene made no sense at the end of the film.
DEATH TOLL: 10
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Visions of a bloody, cannibalistic ghost.
- Stabbed in the throat with a metal rusted spring.
- A woman is raped by a ghost.
- Human body parts hung from the ceiling.
- A throat is ripped open.
- Someone is shot in the head.
- People are burnt alive.
- A woman is chopped into pieces and put on display.
- Intestines pulled out.
- Throat slashed.
- Someone is beaten to death.
- Someone has their hand chopped off.
Bleed is a movie that ultimately makes no sense in the end. We have a film that tries to be weird and original but in striving to do so just comes across as an astronomical mess. However, the movie is not all bad, for a film that cost half a million dollars to make. The film has visual flair and even has a few passable performances from the main cast. I'd be interested to see what the director does next if he's given a bigger budget. I see some promise here.