Saturday, 18 September 2021

Shudder Saturday: Bleed With Me (2020)

Another low-budget film that relies on a slow burn, strange character interactions, and a fairly sudden ending (although, thankfully, this doesn't just cut to the titles at a very ambiguous moment), Bleed With Me is an interesting oddity for those who have the patience for it. Mind you, I'm not sure exactly how many people WILL have the patience for it, but I hope there are a few.

It's time for a little break in a cabin in the woods. Emily (Lauren Beatty) is there to spend time with her boyfriend, Brendan (Aris Tyros), but has decided to bring along a friend, Rowan (Lee Marshall). Rowan is a bit awkward and quiet, but soon starts to come out of her shell more in the company of Emily and Brendan. Everything is going quite well, but that changes when Rowan starts to become convinced that at least one of the people keeping her company on this break is also stealing her blood during the night.

The first feature released by writer-director Amelia Moses, who had both this and Bloodthirsty come out in 2020, Bleed With Me is a film that makes good use of limitations. Sticking mostly to the setting of the cabin, the fact that viewers get to delve further and further into the troubled mind of Rowan makes it easy to overlook the lack of any meaningful movement and variety. It also helps that Moses presents the material in a way that can allow people to feel satisfied with events as they are depicted, while also allowing for the option of creating your own interpretation of events. Everything seems quite firmly set out by the very end of the film, but I was left considering some interesting options, despite the fact that the script seemed to have an air of certainty about it.

The big weakness, I'm sorry to say, comes from the performances. Tyros may be the best of the three leads, and he's the person onscreen for the least amount of time. Marshall isn't bad, even if she overdoes the timidity and twitchiness, but Beatty is. While I understand the way in which certain scenes were being played, Beatty is unable to feel natural and real at any point during the film, giving you a sense of something being off from the very first scene. Beatty is also the lead in Bloodthirsty, which means I will eventually check her out in that film and discover whether her performance here was a directing decision or whether that's just how she is onscreen, but this turn certainly didn't make me a fan.

Moses, on the other hand, is someone I will be keeping an eye on. She is able to mix the familiar and the strange with aplomb, spinning a number of small moments here into a nicely-crafted tale that looks at potential vampirism, stalking, co-dependency, self-harming, and more. Even more impressive is the fact that Moses handles all of these topics sensitively enough without bringing the main narrative strand to a clumsy halt. I just hope she starts to work with better actors, or perhaps starts to get better at directing the actors that she hires. Because two out of the three people starring in this film do enough damage to drag it down from a good viewing experience to an average one.


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