Bleed – USA, 2016

‘Reap the flesh’

Bleed is a 2016 American supernatural horror feature film directed by Tripp Rhame from a screenplay co-written with Ben Jacoby. The movie stars Chelsey Crisp, Riley Smith, Michael Steger and Lyndon Smith.

Review:

What happens when you take a little Paranormal Activity and mix it in with a little Rosemary’s Baby and then toss in Devil’s Due and then top it all off with a sprinkle of Deliverance and The Chernobyl Diaries and just a hint of the remake of I Spit On Your Grave? You end up with a big ol’ mess of a movie…

Sarah (Chelsey Crisp) is a newlywed who appears to have it all. She’s got a wonderful husband, Matt (Michael Steger), they’ve got a beautiful house out in the country, and even more importantly, they’ve got a baby on the way!

So what if the nearby town seems to be a little bit creepy and is full of country-accented men with beards?And so what if there’s a deserted prison nearby, one that is rumoured to be haunted by the spirit of a preacher-turned-serial killer who died when a fire broke out at the prison? And what about that mysterious woman who keeps showing up in the nearby field and screaming like a banshee? That’s just local colour!  Anyone who thinks that’s unusual has obviously never lived in Oklahoma or visited Hot Springs, Arkansas.

In order to celebrate their new home, Sarah and Matt decide to invite their best friends out to the house. Dave (Elimu Nelson) and Bree (Brittany Ishibashi) are a likable couple, especially now that Bree is regularly taking her medication.  Bree is schizophrenic and hears voices when she doesn’t take her meds. To the film’s credit, it portrays Bree as a positive character and never goes down the path that I feared it would follow.

Suddenly, Sarah’s good-for-nothing brother, Eric (Riley Smith) shows up.  His girlfriend, Skye (Lyndon Smith) is with him. The first thing that Eric does is ask for money. The second thing that Eric does is get high.  The third thing that Eric does is talk about how he and Skye have spent the past few months driving across America and searching for ghosts. And hey, isn’t there a haunted prison somewhere nearby?

Meanwhile, Skye takes a bath. While she’s in the bathtub, she suddenly see an evil-looking apparition standing over her. She screams for help and Matt responds. The apparition has vanished. Sarah glares at Matt and the towel-clad Skye.  “I didn’t know she’d be half-naked!” Matt protests. Of course not! Why would someone get undressed before taking a bath?

Anyway, Eric convinces everyone but Sarah to search for ghosts with them.  Sarah drops them off at the ruins of the prison, promises to come back for them in a few hours, and then starts back home. Unfortunately, she has an accident on the way back and ends up getting a ride with a creepy deputy.  And it quickly becomes clear that the deputy isn’t in any hurry to get her back home…

Meanwhile, at the prison, all Hell breaks loose. Skye sees another evil spirit.  Eric’s throat gets slashed but oddly, it stops bleeding after a few seconds. Voices are heard. Objects move. So many Paranormal Activity-type things occur that I’m actually surprised (and relieved) that Bleed wasn’t a found footage film…

One thing that Bleed does is that it keeps you guessing. At first, I assumed it would be another city folk vs. hillbillies type of film but then it turned into a ghost story. And, for a long while, I thought it was just another ghost story but then it turned out to be something different all together. Admittedly, the film sometimes struggles to handle the constant shift in tone but, oddly, that kinda works. It definitely keeps the viewer off-balance.

As you might expect from a film that’s constantly changing tone, Bleed is a bit uneven but it’s definitely a watchable and intriguing horror film and the film makes good use of that atmospheric prison. For a lot of viewers, Bleed will probably be a love-it-or-hate-it type of film. It’s well-directed but the story is just almost unnecessarily complicated.

Lisa Marie Bowman, MOVIES & MANIA – guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens

Other reviews:

” …the film does boast visual flair, and its real-life Georgia locations, including an actual former prison, add impressively ominous atmosphere. And with its brief, fast-paced running time, it’s smart enough not to wear out its welcome.” Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

“Rhame has created a film that feels like an assemblage of horror tropes […] We spend the bulk of the film running around the location before a reversal of expectation that holds zero impact and a downbeat ending of equally negligible effect.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“To put a fork in it; Bleed is one hell of a fright flick; it’s fast paced, at times brutal, and filled to the brim with the ghoulish goings-on that aficionados of the arcane will likely dig…” That’s Not Current

Bleed features a fiendish horror baddie, enthusiastic filmmaking, and a strong enough collection of performances that indie films don’t always provide. That’s the good. The bad? An encompassing story struggles to connect every dot, and gets lost in setting up visual thrills.” Matt Donato, We Got This Covered

Cast and characters:

  • Chelsey Crisp … Sarah
  • Riley Smith … Eric
  • Michael Steger … Matt
  • Lyndon Smith … Skye
  • Brittany Ishibashi … Bree
  • Elimu Nelson … Dave
  • David Yow … Deputy Wilson
  • Eric Abraham … Prisoner
  • Denny Ainsworth … Prisoner
  • Ben Amick … Deputy
  • Brook Amos … Farm Boy
  • Mark Ashworth … Deputy
  • Sandra Bowman … Hill Person
  • Bailey Campbell … Young Friend
  • Fran Capitanelli … Deputy

Trivia:

Working titles were The Circle and The Harvesting.

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