Movie Number 118
TitleThe Bleeding House (2011)
Running Time– 87 minutes (“Not Rated”)
Director– Philip Gelatt
Writer– Philip Gelatt
Starring– Alexandra Chando, Patrick Breen, Betsy Aidem, and Richard Bekins

(Originally an IP Movies Review)

As a film critic for independent websites, I get to spend a lot of time with first-time writers and directors. This is often a mixed bag as some blow me away with his or her raw talent, and others leave me wishing I hadn’t wasted my time. The Bleeding House’s first time director, Philip Gelatt, lands in the first group, delivering an eerie, haunting look at small-town Americana with expert special effects, and great acting to boot.

In The Bleeding House, a family is haunted by their past. The Smith family lives on the outskirts of town, essentially banished from the city they once called home. Unable to catch a break, Matt (Richard Bekins) feels hopeless as the patriarch: his daughter Gloria (Alexandra Chando) refuses to answer to her given name, and silently insists on being called Blackbird. His wife Marilyn (Betsy Aidem) is getting sick of the loneliness and seclusion, and his son Quentin (Charlie Hewson) is so far removed from the rest of the family, it’s a miracle he still lives under the same roof. One night, during another family dinner fight, a man-in-white appears at the front door, asking for a place to stay overnight until the mechanic can fix his car in the morning. Matt, wanting to better his name in town, invites the man – Nick (Patrick Breen) – into his home. With a title like The Bleeding House, one can imagine what happens next.

The story does its job by getting the viewer interested, but virtually any “dark past” story will do that. The story is pretty predictable, but that isn’t what The Bleeding House is about. Obvious clues are given throughout so most viewers will be able to figure out the ending before the middle of the film plays out, but what keeps The Bleeding House engaging are the unique characters that manage to get more interesting as the story progresses, and the wonderful special effects. The work done on each kill is detailed, and always looks realistic. Whether it’s a sliced neck or a bullet wound, The Bleeding House can make almost anyone squirm.

Patrick Breen is wonderful as the eccentric and anachronistic Nick. His Texan dialect – which helps to play into the Americana of the entire film – is pitch perfect, and he plays his character with absolute sincerity. Breen also has a charisma about him that is perfect for Nick, which is a nod to an excellent casting decision. Alexandra Chando plays the 16-year-old Gloria with just as much charisma and sincerity as Breen, but is that much eerier simply because of the age of her character. Chando, although a 25-year-old actress, is able to play a high school girl believably, and gives the role a sense of maturity that might otherwise be missing with a younger actress. Though both Richard Bekins and Betsy Aidem do well with what they’re given, and share an excellent chemistry as the mother and father, it would’ve been great to see their roles developed a bit further.

The downside to The Bleeding House comes in the pacing: it is a slow burn. There’s nothing wrong with a slow burn if there is something awaiting the audience at the end. Given the fact that this isn’t a film about “what happens”, but rather “how it happens”, this works against the slow burn concept. One of the biggest questions of the film is answered halfway through, and though we learn more about it as the movie progresses, this question could have been left unanswered until the third act, and it may have helped the film move a little quicker. Such a short film (it has an 87-minute running time) shouldn’t feel so slowly paced.

The Bleeding House takes a tried an true genre piece and makes it interesting again. It doesn’t turn the genre on its head, but reminds us why we fell in love with the serial killer subgenre to begin with. It moves slowly, but the attention to detail by first-time director Philip Gelatt is admirable. The Bleeding House should please any horror fan with a couple extra ounces of patience.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed The Bleeding House, it’s difficult to recommend the DVD at it’s current price tag ($26.95 on Amazon) because of the few special features. The commentary track is quite solid, but the other features are lacking any significance. The film itself is worth checking out, but I wouldn’t pick this DVD up for anything more than $10 – $15.