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. I just watched Bleed on Netflix and the plot is so convoluted that I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I just watched.
But, before I try to figure this all out, let’s take a look at the trailer:
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 rumored 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 color! 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. My recommendation is that you watch it and judge for yourself.