The Bleeding House sounds more British than it actually is. I can’t hear the title without thinking of Malcolm McDowell screaming about some dwelling that apparently frustrates him to some extent. “What’s with the bleeding house?!” he could yell, for instance. I don’t know what his problem would be, exactly… Maybe there was some kind of shingling fiasco. But I digress. It’s easy to digress while writing about The Bleeding House. It’s a slowly paced horror film with maybe enough plot for an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode. It probably would have been a pretty good episode, actually, but there’s not enough going on inside The Bleeding House to justify an entire feature.
The story involves the Smith family, a group of social pariahs who live on their own in the middle of nowhere. It sounds a little Texas Chainsaw when you say it like that, but aside from the fact that young Gloria (Alexandra Chando of As the World Turns) likes to hurt forest animals and mother Marilyn (Betsy Aidem) apparently set a neighbor’s house on fire once they mostly live lives of quiet desperation, trying desperately to regain the good graces of the community around them. Not that we ever see the community, mind you. We have to take all this on faith, which is difficult when the film’s leaden pace gives us ample free time to let our minds wonder about such things.
In walks the mysterious Nick, played by Galaxy Quest’s Patrick Breen. With his old-timey Southern drawl, white suit and meticulous manner he can only be one of two things: either he’s a character from a Mark Twain novel who got horribly lost, or he’s a serial killer. His shoddy story only supports the latter. His car broke down but the mechanic can’t come until tomorrow. Instead of asking for a place to stay while a cab comes to take him to a motel, he asks to stay the night. Oh, and his family was horrifically murdered. Oh yeah, and those surgical supplies he keeps on him? Those are “just in case.”
Yeah, it’s going to be a bad night for everyone involved.
The Bleeding House has a problem with pacing. The word “pacing” implies that the pace will vary at some point throughout the narrative. There’s none of that here. The film floats along at a slow clip that would be almost dreamlike if the public domain-sounding score didn’t distract so much. Without any music The Bleeding House might have felt a little like a tone poem, which probably wouldn’t have been terribly exciting but would at least have set a spooky mood even throughout the early, boring scenes. Instead the film manages to plod at all times, even during otherwise suspenseful sequences of murder and mayhem. It’s reasonably well shot, but languidly edited. It feels like an intentional creative decision, but apparently not a wise one, much like the character of Nick.
Nick should be the standout character, the supervillain wandering into a gothic indie drama, but he sticks out like a sore thumb. The contrast, which obviously is the point, doesn’t lead to narrative excitement but rather an awkward clash in tone, as if somebody remade Halloween shot for shot but replaced Michael Meyers with Lex Flipping Luthor. Breen, who is exceptional in the ill conceived role, makes the most of his screentime with a performance that would be worthy of accolades on the stage, but in The Bleeding House it feels like Breen knew his character was the only “entertaining” thing about the movie, and overcompensated as a result. He doesn’t belong in The Bleeding House, but ironically the film would have been dull as sin without him. (Like, a dull sin… Eating meat on Fridays dull.) It’s troubling when the one thing that makes a movie watchable doesn’t even belong there, like a Baconator mysteriously placed at the center of a salad bar. You want to thank somebody for it, but you know you shouldn’t because that’s not why you came to the restaurant in the first place.
The Bleeding House isn’t worth the cockney swear word in the title. It’s ponderous but has little to ponder. The acting varies from strong (and misplaced) to genuinely bad. The plot is almost nonexistent, with twists more telegraphed than the best way to kill the aliens from Independence Day. I want to applaud the filmmakers for trying to make a serious horror film, but can’t quite put my hands together because the execution falls so completely flat. “What’s with The Bleeding House?” It turns out that’s a good question after all.
Crave Online Rating: 4/10