The Bleeding House – Tribeca Film Festival Review

A good-hearted try at a bloody slasher flick falls short of a full pint.

Marilyn and Matt Smith have a troubled marriage. They fight all the time and their daughter Gloria seems a bit off. She decorates her room with insects. Their son Quentin has the IQ of a toaster and is plotting to run away from home with his girlfriend Lynne.

Murky incidents such as odd house fires and furtive sexual encounters fill the Smith’s family heritage. This should be good.

Unfortunately, Philip Gelatt’s directorial debut “The Bleeding House” is a couple cards short of a full house. The lack of terror is not the fault of supporting actors Alexandra Chando, Nina Lisandrello, Richard Bekins, Charlie Hewson and Betsy Aidem, who do their utmost to bring some sort of tension to what is a ho-hum plot. Nor is it the fault of lead Patrick Breen who carries the plot as well-mannered drifter Nick. Simply stated, the screenplay is not there.

When Nick comes upon the Smith household, a stranded traveler asking for help, Marilyn is wary, as well she should be. Anybody who has seen any slasher flicks knows this is the start of something bad.

The stranded traveler coming to stay with the family with his satchel of belongings. Nothing to get excited about, most tourists travel with a blood draining kit in their suitcase. One never knows when the need may arise.

Thank goodness husband Matt is much more willing to help; spineless dimwit that he is. This is a good beginning in that it shows Marilyn is a deceitful wife and Matt is an innocent husband. Guilt is good.

As the night progresses, Marilyn gives in to the entreaties of Matt and Nick and, boy, are we glad she did. Once a good old-fashioned barking mad slasher gets inside the family home and unlimbers the blood pumping apparatus the fun begins. Nick goes through the family like a house on fire, using the most imaginative and scientific techniques ever seen.

Unfortunately, it is at this point where the filmmakers cannot decide if the film is sci-fi or slasher. There is little rhyme, reason or choreography to Nick’s approach to exacting revenge. As the audience is feeling their way through this, Gloria and Lynne escape into the woods and Nick is two corpses short of mission accomplished.

Fortunately, unsuspecting donut-eating fried chicken cops show up on the scene and take matters in their own hands. This provides another fifteen minutes of contrived mayhem before the finale with the trio of Nick and the two girls, who turn out to have some secrets of their own.

The good news is that Pat Breen plays a pretty durn good slasher-in-sheep’s-clothing. He has a way with the mannerisms and intonations of the Southern preacher turned homicidal blood worshipper. The sentences roll off his tongue like the devil and Eve discussing the nutritional benefits of the Red Delicious apple.

When the police show up on the scene the film takes a fast left-hand turn into an attempted magic act where a plot is pulled out of a hat. Police, heck yes, let us splatter a couple of them.

The public hates them, anyway. Soon the audience no longer cares what will happen in the end; they are headed for the exits and checking their cell-phone messages.

Although spiky in places the screenplay does not do enough to make us hate the villains or love the heroes. They all fuse together into one composite personality of weirdness.

There is little imagination shown in the costumes, sets or cinematography for the movie. Most of the shots are inside of the house, which could be creepy enough if more intensity was derived from the angles, colors, shapes and shadows. Instead, we get a house and that is about all.

If more development for the past sins of the family was provided at the beginning the viewers might have more reason to care about the end.

A good try but this filmmaker will have to shed more blood before he produces a hit.

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Directed and Written by: Philip Gelatt
Starring: Patrick Breen, Alexandra Chando and Nina Lisandrello 
Release Date: Tribeca Film Festival Premier April 27, 3011
MPAA: Not rated
Runtime: 86 minutes
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color