Studio: Epic Pictures
Director: Amelia Moses
Writer: Amelia Moses
Producer: Mariel Sharp, Amelia Moses, Lee Marshall
Stars: Lee Marshall, Lauren Beatty, Aris Tyros
A troubled young woman at an isolated cabin for a winter weekend suspects her friend may be secretly stealing her blood.
Horror has taken the same trip so often, a travel brochure offering another excursion to a remote woodland cabin doesn¡¯t appear all that slick and glossy. It¡¯s an even tougher sell when the slow-burning getaway being presented is as light on suspense as it is on story.
There¡¯s no mistaking Rowan as anything other than the most emotionally troubled member of ¡°Bleed with Me¡¯s¡± trio. Lee Marshall wonderfully washes her suitably moody performance in the typical tics of a wounded woman with scars on her arm to match the ones in her mind. Mildly matted bangs inch down into eyes beleaguered by bags holding missed sleep. Arms tuck tightly up her sleeves when her sweater turns into a symbolic shell. She¡¯s aware she¡¯s adding a third wheel to this winter weekend, yet a recent suicide attempt makes a recovery respite absolutely necessary.
As Rowan¡¯s concerned coworker and only friend, the first immediately noticeable characteristic about Emily is actress Lauren Beatty¡¯s fresh haircut. Looking like she rose from a salon chair seconds before the camera started rolling, a clean-cut sharpness in Emily¡¯s appearance pretties up a false front I don¡¯t believe is deliberately designed.
Particularly early on, Beatty sounds like she¡¯s reading memorized lines while only the half of her mind that isn¡¯t preoccupied engages in the scene itself. Whether ironically or inadvertently, the hollow part of Beatty¡¯s performance ends up advantageous to Emily¡¯s characterization. We¡¯re supposed to tune into Rowan¡¯s suspicions that Emily might have ulterior motives or hides some sinister secret. The hint of vacancy in Emily¡¯s presence thus heightens the suggestion that one must be wary of her potential phoniness.
It¡¯s alternatively possible that the actress is so skilled at subtlety, adding this element to Emily through hazy dialogue delivery is entirely intentional. However, with Emily¡¯s boyfriend Brendan (Aris Tyros) also being a nondescript drip, I¡¯m inclined to think neither the script nor direction dictated such nuance from the cast. They instead roll over inconsequential exchanges as though merely slogging through each sentence is the sole goal.
Rowan may be the third wheel within the movie, but Brendan is definitely extraneous to Rowan and Emily¡¯s driving dynamic. While their weekend winds on, small sips of tea and large slugs of wine cause Rowan¡¯s possibly hallucinatory head to consider Emily could be drugging her. Each night Rowan weirdly dreams of Emily drinking blood. Each morning Rowan finds a fresh cut on her arm. Emily worries Rowan might be harming herself again. But Rowan thinks Emily could be quietly consuming her blood.
¡°Bleed with Me¡± doesn¡¯t do nearly enough to deepen its atmosphere-dependent mystery and only does moderately more to develop cursory camaraderie. Rowan, Emily, and Brendan play Scrabble and cards. They smoke pot before aimlessly reminiscing about favorite late night infomercials. They take a snowy hike that uncovers a strung-up rabbit. They exclusively partake in blah activities but more than that, inherent unease in the setup pushes everyone in opposite directions. Brendan doesn¡¯t want someone he just met interfering with romantic intimacy. Emily struggles to get Rowan to open up. Rowan swims inside fractured and fragmented thoughts. These aren¡¯t ideal circumstances for friendships to form, so the cabin becomes an uncomfortably uninviting place for us to be too.
No matter how patiently anyone waits for the film to finally boil, the top never blows off the tame tension because barely anything simmers underneath. At one point, Rowan and Brendan have a private conversation where Rowan gets suspiciously cagey about revealing where she comes from, but the seed never blooms into something substantial. Another scene shows Rowan throwing concerned looks at Emily¡¯s childhood photos in a family album, but it isn¡¯t obvious what creepy clues she may be seeing in them. It¡¯s hard to bite ¡°Bleed with Me¡¯s¡± hook when all of its bait is no bigger than a minnow.
Someone more inclined than me may have a mindset that better syncs with the movie¡¯s metaphors. I¡¯m too distanced from suicidal tendencies, superficial relationships, and feelings of inadequacy for ¡°Bleed with Me¡± to register as anything other than a common chamber play. Three people plus one location equals a typical template for a scrabbling indie production. In this instance, that recipe doesn¡¯t bake an appetizing meal of energy, excitement, or resonant entertainment.
Review Score: 45