The Bleeding (2011)
★★ / ★★★★
Matt (Richard Bekins) and Marilyn (Betsy Aidem) live with their two children, Gloria (Alexandra Chando) and Quentin (Charlie Hewson), next to the woods. They avoid the nearby town because people speak ill of them. Matt and Marilyn’s family was supposedly have been involved in arson of another family’s home and their deaths. When Nick (Patrick Breen) knocks on the reclusive family’s door, he informs Matt that his car has broken down and asks if he can stay the night. Matt and Marilyn, though reluctant at first, eventually decide that it is a good idea to perform a small act of kindness.
“The Bleeding,” also known as “The Bleeding House,” based on the screenplay and directed by Philip Gelatt, has a curious premise but its ideas are not fully tied together. As a result, the tone and pacing feels all over the place, ultimately failing to engage us in a natural flow. Despite the fervor behind the lens, it is often short-circuited by its underwhelming and at times glaringly bad technical elements.
Still, I was somewhat interested in the broken characters. Nick is a serial killer who poses as a surgeon and he almost immediately recognizes that Gloria houses a similar darkness inside her. His method of killing is through exsanguination. Yet he does not consider his act of murder as cruelty; he sees it as his special role to free people from their sins. We wonder what made him this way. Also, for someone who likes to bleed people dry–what I imagine to be a messy affair–it is ironic that he is not keen on dealing with mess unless absolutely necessary. It bothers him greatly if he spots dirt or a droplet of blood on his perfectly ironed white shirt.
Meanwhile, Gloria exhibits signs of antisocial personality disorder. She collects animal bones in the woods and hides them so she can admire her collection when she needs escape. It is suggested that she has killed animals and taken pleasure from it. There is something wrong with her and her family knows about it. Marilyn does not allow Gloria to use a knife. Before dinner, the mother cuts up the meat for her daughter and locks the knives in a drawer. As these bizarre behaviors pile on top one another, the lack of score behind them is noticeable. It works because instead of only relying on overt violence, there are times when we are asked to imagine possibilities and consider what one is capable of doing.
The casting should have been more practical and the screenplay needed to have been more mindful of its inconsistencies. Lynne (Nina Lisandrello), for instance, is as tall as Nick and has an athletic build, but when she is asked to step out of the car, she does exactly what she is told and merely cries. Either a different actress with a smaller frame should have been hired or the writer-director ought to have been more aware that the scenes begs to be rewritten. I found it difficult to buy into this scene and those similar to it. In the scenes prior, Lynne is shown as strong and having a lot of enthusiasm. When asked by Nick to get out of the car, she suspects that she is going to die. Given her physique, if she has nothing to lose, why is she not allowed to put up a fight? If you were in her shoes, would you not fight tooth and nail?