Tripp Rhame’s Bleed leaves no cliché unturned. This 2016 horror picture is a trap of horror movie tropes and things get outright nuts before the closing credits, with Rhame and Ben Jacoby’s screenplay almost devouring itself in the process.
It’s tempting to give Bleed a pass on account of its low budget, but this movie’s issues have nothing to do with a lack of money or a scarcity of assets. On the contrary, this excursion’s difficulties have to do with an overwhelming abundance of damn well everything.
Things open in 1979 with a weird little girl (Kayla Deaver) who has a weird birthmark of a half-moon. The townspeople are after her. In modern times, Sarah (Chelsey Crisp) and her doctor-husband Matt (Michael Steger) are expecting. They’re also having a get-together and friends Dave (Elimu Nelson) and Bree (Brittany Ishibashi) show up.
Sarah’s brother Eric (Riley Smith) likewise shows up and he hauls his hippie girlfriend Skye (Lyndon Smith) along. Eric is, among other things, an amateur ghost hunter. Dave happens to mention a prison destroyed by fire that just so happens to be in the area. Naturally, the group – sans the pregnant Sarah – wants to go check it out.
Bleed is entrenched in the sort of boondocks distrust that has fuelled many a better movie. It unpacks everything from a weird woman standing by the side of the road (who abruptly turns around and yells at the grass) to off-putting police officers.
Things develop into a family dynamic, with Sarah and Eric sharing a strained sibling relationship. Of course, Eric doesn’t get along with Matt. And of course, Eric and his lady smoke copious amounts of pot. And of course, Skye decides to have a bath in the middle of dinner and winds up seeing a ghost.
Rhame has a lot of ideas, but the execution is awkward and inexplicable – to say the least. There are death scenes that make no sense and near-death scenes that go from bad to awful, with Skye shifting emotions on a dime and Eric getting stabbed in the neck only to make a baffling rabbit-quick recovery.
Whether it’s the implied twin connection or the hirsute pirate-like ghost or the surprise schizophrenia of one of the friends or the insignificance of EVPs or the blowing ghost attacks or the secretive birthmarks or the backwoods hillbilly cult or the pregnancy scare or the pointless meandering in the dark woods or the tombstone in the backyard or the detached limbs, Bleed is ridiculous.
Worst of all, nothing registers. Characters move from one dreadful format to another and nothing bothers them. Sarah’s pregnancy is only a contrivance and nothing stops her from hauling ass back home on her own. Couldn’t a friend have gone with her, just in case? Maybe a little caution would help, especially given the fact that she has car trouble twice in the damn movie.
Sometimes details are just details, but sometimes a pile-up of bad ideas can render even the best laid plans incomprehensible. That’s the case with Bleed, a horror film so absurd and downright cumbersome that it winds up a feverish, senseless mess.