We’ve all seen it before: a big house, the peeling paint displaying its age, located at the end of a dirt road; nothing to see on all sides but dark woods and open fields of overgrown grass; the kind of place people go when they don’t want to be around others, or when they don’t want others around them. Throw in the darkness of night and the scene is set for any number of classic horror films. It’s hard to blame writers, the wholesomeness and desolation make it at once both oddly familiar and inherently creepy. It is this similar slice of middle-Americana that provides the backdrop for The Bleeding House.
The Bleeding House is about the Smith family, a family of dysfunction stemming from a secret that has caused them to be all but cast out by society. There is the father, Matt (Richard Bekins), working tirelessly to return the family to a form of normality; the mother, Marilyn (Betsy Aidem), whose overbearing attempts to push the family together is having the opposite affect; their son, Quentin (Charlie Hewson), whose detachment from his family grows by the minute; and Gloria (Alexandra Chando), the daughter who answers only to “Blackbird” and shows a penchant for the strange and slightly macabre; each member with their own crosses to bear and secrets to hide, even from one another. On a chance evening, a traveling stranger named Nick (Patrick Breen) arrives at their door, equipped with a Southern accent, a charming smile and a bag of medical supplies. After some slight reluctance the Smiths welcome Nick into their home for the night, but soon come to realize that Nick also carries with him some secrets of his own.
I said most of want I want to say about this movie with the first line of this piece: we’ve all seen it before. The creepy locale, the disarming stranger with sinister intentions, the messed up family and the drama that entails have all been fodder for much better works than The Bleeding House. That’s not to say a movie with a similar story or makeup to any other can’t be as good, but it is in this case. The movie itself is not essentially bad – there’s plenty of blood, moments of heightened suspense and surprises as the secrets are revealed – but nothing gives this film the sort of punch a truly great horror needs. I believe part of that blame lies in the characters themselves.
While the performances are good across the board (nothing spectacular but definitely good), none of the characters are worth rooting for. In general, for a story like this to work every character needs their faults but at some point someone has to be sympathized with. Aside from character who is killed far too early in the film, no other character does this. At no point does the audience believe that these people don’t at least partially deserve the peril they find themselves in. A better movie may be able to make this work, but The Bleeding House doesn’t.
I do have to hand it to first time writer/director Philip Gelatt. Even though the writing may have been a bit lackluster, the look of the film is crisp and creates a great ambiance of horror. Gelatt and his cinematographer Frederic Fasano showed a keen eye framing and shooting, adding tension to scenes that never really seemed to carry that much on their own. However, looks can only get you so far and, at the end of the day, The Bleeding House just seemed to fall too flat too often to be anything more than decent.
I give The Bleeding House 2 out of 5. I mean…. it’s just bad. Watch This Movie on Putlocker.