A little subtlety goes a long way, especially in horror. It conveys the audience to think about what they are actually seeing as they absorb it and let it simmer in their minds for the length of the film and sometimes, long after the film is over. The indie horror, The Bleeding House, used a subtlety when playing out their tale of family secrets and sins and it worked in some ways. Unfortunately, the story and some of its characters became sloppy in some places, making it difficult to fully enjoy the film. Although not a cinematic horror masterpiece, the film is still interesting to watch.
The 2011 horror, directed and written by Philip Gelatt, opens with a family who are seriously dysfunctional and clearly on edge. The tension between the four individuals–the mother, father, son, and daughter–is established immediately, however, the audience is unaware of why or how they became that way. The dinner discussion soon turns to the shy and distant daughter, Gloria, who is reprimanded for her lifestyle; she keeps dead insects on her walls and is obviously bizarre.
Eventually, a Southern stranger appears on their doorstep seeking their help and when he quotes a passage from the Bible, the family’s hesitations are eased and they invite him inside of their broken home. At first the stranger, Nick, is very appealing and seemingly kind-hearted, until he decides to begin what he had come for in the first place.
Nick begins the process of cleansing the house of its sins by allowing the family to confess and by removing their “souls” all the while, preaching his beliefs and expressing his infatuation with Gloria, who seems to be a lot like him.
The family’s secrets are revealed slowly and an even bigger secret is revealed about Gloria, one that could have been guessed from very early on in the film. The performances from the main core of characters are realistic and give the film a real feel, however, whenever the minor girlfriend character shows up on the screen, it takes you away from that atmosphere and forces you to think about how awful she is acting.
Nick’s character is more charming than frightening and I suppose the director preferred him to be that way; I just didn’t find a lot of his actions to be terrifying or even smart, for that matter. For someone who was specifically sent to a house to murder people, he was very sloppy at getting the job done.
In the process of capturing the mother and father, Nick allows Gloria to flee from the home without going after her. Even prior to entering the home he allows the son to drive away, seeing his face and all. A lot of his actions did not make sense; they frustrated me and I am sure they will frustrate any other moviegoer that decides to watch the film.
The film was slow and that wasn’t the problem. The problem with the movie is it seemed a little messy and there wasn’t a very clear message by its end. Gloria and Nick are very similar in their actions but very different in their intentions and I would guess that the meaning behind this was that some people are just born evil, while others believe that they are doing the world good.
Nick’s true identity is never revealed to the audience by the end of the film and that’s fine. However, it would have been nice if we were given just a bit more information about him so that we could conclude if he was human or not. The man clearly had been at his profession for a very long time and suffered several injuries along the way, making one question how he has been able to survive through it all.
I would have loved to see more of Nick’s backstory and see how his career as a soul-collector began. He tells his victims the story of his family but we later learn that it was all a lie. It would have been interesting to see some of his past or to see how he actually came to the chosen family.
I have a soft spot in my heart for indie horror films because you know how hard the directors and writers actually try to make something that the fans will enjoy. The premise behind this film was an interesting one but its execution wasn’t ideal. Most of the performances were enjoyable and the atmosphere was chilling at times. However, by the end of the film there are more questions than answers and a small mess that needs to be cleaned up.
Overall, the film had an interesting plot and characters but it did not succeed in fully engrossing the viewer. Some of the character’s actions were frustrating and a lot of things weren’t answered. For an indie film, it was interesting to watch and I suggest fans of the genre view it and make their own opinions on it. The movie is a pass for mainstream audiences who really don’t have the patience to sit through a slow-burn film, especially when the payoffs of The Bleeding House aren’t completely exciting.