R0 - America - MVD Visual
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (16th April 2017).
The Film

Seeking a life away from the hectic city in which to raise their child, Matt (90210's Michael Steger) takes a country practice up in the mountains and his pregnant wife Sarah (Fresh Off the Boat's Chelsey Crisp) sets about renovating their massive and remote (and surprisingly affordable) Victorian dream house. A weekend housewarming with Sarah's schizophrenic-but-medicated best friend Bree (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Brittany Ishibashi) and her new beau Dave (Love Don't Cost a Thing's Elimu Nelson) quickly takes a downward turn when Sarah's brother Eric (Not Another Teen Movie's Riley Smith) and his hippie girlfriend Skye (Secrets in Their Eyes' Lyndon Smith) crash the party. Not only is Matt annoyed by nomadic Eric constantly hitting Sarah up for money, he also disapproves of his brother-in-law's interest in the spiritual and the supernatural stemming from the siblings supposed childhood encounter with a poltergeist and their apparent rescue in the form of a swarm of black butterflies. When psychically-sensitive Skye has a frightening vision, Eric learns from Dave of ruins up in the hills of a prison in which local cannibal killer Kane and other inmates perished in a mysterious fire. When Eric proposes a ghost-hunting trip, Sarah is shocked when Matt agrees if only to finally disabuse Matt of the existence of the supernatural and get him to grow up. Sarah drives the other five up as far as the road leads, promising to pick them up in a couple hours. On the way home, however, she is violently forced off the road by an apparition. As the quintet explore the burnt-out prison, their experiences escalate from the disturbing to the inexplicable (with Skye hallucinating an attack from Kane and accidentally slashing Eric's throat only for the wound to mysteriously heal itself) but they find their attempt to get back to the main road barred by the sinister residents of the backwoods. In need of medical attention for herself and her unborn child, an injured Sarah accepts a ride from fire-scarred Deputy Wilson (Southbound's David Yow) only to discover that the locals do things different up in the mountains extending to their own pagan religion and its demands for human sacrifices.

Attractively photographed, generally well-acted by the principals, and sporting some atmospheric settings, Bleed sadly fails due to the filmmakers' attempt to make up for a paucity of imagination by tossing in everything they can from supernatural serial killers, sinister country folk, backwoods cults, haunted prisons, angels, strange birthmarks, sanity-doubting hallucinations, black-eyed apparitions, and the like. The central characters are fairly well-etched and sympathetic but the film takes so long to tie together the cult angle, the prison, the serial killer's ghost, and the apparition of a little girl; and when it does, it is nothing new or surprising. While a cult of silhouetted figures lurking in the woods might be suitably unnerving, their pursuit of the main characters takes the form of a decidedly unscary posse of yahoos firing recklessly at potential sacrificial victims. The gore is as accomplished as the film's other technical aspects and the use of CGI is fairly restrained, but there is an overarching cynicism that extends from its overuse of trendy horror stylistics to the downbeat ending which is not so much devastating or tragic as nonsensical. It might have been easier to forgive and even be entertained by this hodgepodge had it not otherwise possessed production value, capable acting, and slick technical attributes; instead, Bleed feels like a waste of time for all involved (including the viewer).


Shot with the Red Epic 5K camera, the 2.35:1 widescreen image looks quite crisp and defined in MVD's mid-range bitrate, progressive, anamorphic widescreen encode. Darker shots may evince a little video noise on larger monitors, but this may be either a side effect of the compression or even the heavy secondary color correction.


Audio is offered up in Dolby Digital 5.1 and a 2.0 stereo downmix. The surround mix makes use of the rear channels for atmosphere, the spread of the score, and the usual unnerving noises to goose the viewer (particularly during the abandoned prison scenes). English Closed Captions are available.


The only extras are a series of disposable interviews with the principal cast as interviewed by director Tripp Rhame himself asking rather leading questions about the script's strength of characterization and relatibility, as well as their belief or non-belief in the supernatural, and their experiences on the production. The interviews might have been better edited into a talking heads behind the scenes featurette as they seem somewhat repetitive when watched one after the other.



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