One of the many films that made its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival is a little thriller called The Bleeding House. The thriller marks the directorial debut of Philip Gelatt, who was also the writer and editor of this sadistic piece of cinema.
The Bleeding House revolves around a small town family known as The Smiths. Comprised of Marilyn, Matt and their two children, Gloria (who looks like a young Alicia Silverstone) and Quentin, the family struggles to live normal lives because they are haunted by a secret past. Marilyn is a stuck-up mother who doesn’t trust her daughter, Matt is a kind hearted but weak man, Gloria is the sadistic type and prefers to be called Blackbird, and Quentin the older brother who is the most normal of the group.
One night a stranger arrives at their doorstep looking for a place to stay after his car broke down. Initially skeptical, the parents welcome a new face to help break the social barriers that have exiled them from the rest of the townsmen. As Nick is welcomed into their home, the southern religious man begins to sweet talks his way to everyone’s heart. In due time his real intentions surface and he declares that he has been sent from God to seek retribution for the family’s sins.
Nick is one of those clean, ‘straight to the point’ type of killer. He stays under the radar and makes sure he gets his jobs done as he moves from small town to small town looking for sinners. Obviously this wouldn’t be a movie if something went wrong but, like any good killer, Nick knows how to adapt and improvise. What starts with efficiency eventually turns into animalistic killer instincts.
Nick’s method for killing people is probably one of the more disturbing parts of the film; he straps people into a chair and drains them of all their blood, initiating the process by drawing a bloody cross on their forehead. I thought this was a clever and very appropriate tactic. This would be his efficient method.
This movie eventually becomes more unique as you discover what secrets the family is actually hiding. Instead of being a movie about a religious serial killer, it ends up becoming SPOILER a movie about two killers with opposing ideologies. END SPOILER. This is the one aspect of the film that I thought was brilliant and where Gelatt really succeeds.
While disturbing and, at times, suspenseful, by the time I finished The Bleeding House I had decided that everything about it was average. The acting, the story, the directing and so on, was mediocre. I never really bought into Nick because of how philosophical he tried to be. Gerlatt has his moment of brilliance, which was mentioned in the spoiler, but other than that I think he could have done a lot better. While I think he should stick to writing I’d be willing to give him one more shot at directing.
Rating: A mediocre thriller with a brief moment of genius (5.4/10)