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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Day 344: The Bleeding House

The Bleeding House
House Party 5

“Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Blanche DuBois' famous line from A Streetcar Named Desire is still commonly referenced over 60 years later. It's funny to think about because in today's society, we are explicitly taught to never speak to strangers, never pick up hitchhikers, and to never let a stranger into your house. Kids today even have “stranger danger” yells. I'm not saying it's wrong, it's just the way things are. As we've seen from many horror movies, that hitchhiker wants to wear your skin as a coat and that stranger at your front door wants to eat your face. Despite this knowledge, some people (and movies) never learn.

The Bleeding House is a 2011 horror movie staring Alexandra Chando (The Lying Game, As The World Turns) as Gloria Smith and Patrick Breen (Galaxy Quest, Whole Day Down) as Nick. In a rundown home in small town America, the bizarre Gloria lives in a constant state of tension with her family. Her father Matt (Richard Bekins, One Life To Live, Limitless) is desperately trying to get his job back with a law firm while her mother Marilyn (Law & Order, Margaret) tries to maintain some sense of order and family. Gloria's older brother Quentin (Charlie Hewson, Awake, White Collar) is considering leaving home with his secret girlfriend Lynne (Nina Lisandrello, Beauty and the Beast, Nurse Jackie). A violent tragedy befell the family in the past which caused them to fall apart and be shunned from the town, but it is unclear at first. One night, a stranger named Nick arrives at the door asking if he can stay the night since his car broke down. At first, they refuse, but after some though, Marilyn allows him to stay. He is a soft-spoken Southern gentleman who manages to charm the family. He notices the tension between Gloria and her mother and believes that both he and Gloria are very similar. The tension between mother and daughter boils over when a bird that Gloria had been keeping escapes from it's box. When Marilyn asks her to hand over the bird, Gloria kills it and leaves. While she is gone, Nick reveals his true nature, knocking out both parents and hooking them up to a strange machine. The machine starts to drain the blood from Matt as Nick begins to question Marilyn about the violent incident. Marilyn says that she was having an affair with another man and accidentally started a fire in his house, killing his family. Nick reveals that he has been traveling do different towns, dispensing a type of religious justice to those who have sinned. Quentin and Lynne home and Nick slits his throat while Lynne and Gloria escape towards town. They are picked up by police and brought back to the house where Nick kills both policemen. What does Nick have planned for Gloria and was Marilyn's confession just a cover for something more sinister?

"Life is pain. Take me to Hot Topic."

The Bleeding House isn't your typical horror movie. It manages to be completely focused on the story it wants to tell while remaining rather directionless in purpose. It starts out relatively interesting with the broken family and the seemingly-pleasant stranger. Even when the killing began, I remained interested in what was happening, but the story became muddled and confused when questions began to receive answers. It was never entirely clear just why Nick was at their house specifically other than something about going into town and hearing people speak badly about the family. So, what, does he just go around the country waiting to hear people shit talk families that have done something wrong? We're supposed to believe he's a methodical professional serial killer, but we seen him make plenty of mistakes, leaving his finger prints everywhere, and having trouble killing a teenage girl. Granted, we learn that she's just as bad as he is, but it's a bit too much to believe. There are too many twists and turns and most fail to surprise. When Gloria's true nature is revealed, it left me with a feeling of “So what?” It makes it incredibly hard to cheer for her and hope she survives when all is revealed. Combine that with her relatively unlikable family and I end up cheering for Nick instead. Her character's secret was very similar to the daughter in the Kevin Costner's film “Mr. Brooks” which came out 4 years prior to The Bleeding House.

If there's one thing that the movie does right, it's atmosphere. The movie has a constant uncomfortable and eerie atmosphere to it that helps increase interest when the story fails to do so. There are a few jolts and maybe a scare or two, but not much. Like I said, it's not your typical horror movie. I was half-expecting Nick to be some sort of demon or vengeful spirit or something deeper than just a guy going from town to town killing people. I figured the title of the movie might mean that the house itself would bleed. That would have been much cooler. In terms of blood, yes there is a lot of it, but not in the way you expect. Nick drains Matt and Marilyn, filling up jugs with their blood. There's also some typical slashing and stabbing, but there's not much gore coming from those scenes. Patrick Breen is good in his charming, but murderous role. Alexandra Chando spends most of the movie with her hair in her eyes, looking angsty and weird. The dialogue in the movie feels very self-serving as every line tries to be deep and important, but fails to stick. It feels like writer/director Philip Gelatt was writing with one hand and fondling himself with the other, mumbling “I'm so great. I'm so great.”

"I must have a case of the vapors!"

The Bleeding House starts with a moderately decent mystery that eventually leads to nothing. The story itself is rather pedestrian and reminds me of “Mr. Brooks” which is not good because that movie was terrible. The acting is decent, but I am not a fan of the verbal masturbation that is the dialogue. There's violence and plenty of blood, but the movie isn't really a slasher. There's a serious lack of excitement, even during the more active scenes. Nick's motivation for killing is somewhat unclear and it's hard to believe he hasn't been caught yet considering all of his mistakes. I wasn't really expecting a lot from The Bleeding House, but I was expecting more than what I got. The lesson in The Bleeding House is to never let strangers in and never let your child be a murderous psycho. The end.


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