Thursday, August 12, 2021

Bleed With Me – review

Director: Amelia Moses

Release date: 2020

Contains spoilers

There has been a wave of recent vampire films that, in a pacing way at the very least, feel similar; Rose: A Love Story, My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To and now Bleed With Me.

Of course, the central premise of the films are not the same with the other two containing a form of vampirism that might be supernatural or simply a disease and which to a greater or lesser extent use tropes like avoiding sunlight. Not so with this where the question is not what the vampirism is but, rather, is there vampirism at all.

sleeping in the car

The film starts with a car journey. We see Rowan (Lee Marshall) led, slumbering in the back of the car. The camera leaves her briefly to watch the car enter the icy lot of a roadside store. From Rowan’s point of view we see front passenger Emily (Lauren Beatty) exit the car and stand by the car as driver, and Emily’s boyfriend, Brendan (Aris Tyros) brings coffee to Emily. The journey is then resumed, again we see from Rowan’s slumbered position the passage of trees as they drive. Eventually, in the dark, Emily wakes her – they’ve arrived.

Rowan and Emily

The destination is a holiday cabin owned by Emily’s parents, secluded in woodland (and a deep layer of snow). Rowan works as a receptionist at the same place as Emily and – after a couple of meetings (including an intervention for Rowan with a sleazy co-worker) – they have become friends and so Emily has invited her to the cabin for their break. It becomes apparent that Brendan feels it an intrusion but, in fairness, takes it in his stride and makes the best of it.

Lee Marshall as Rowan

As they cook dinner on the first night Rowan cuts her finger and Emily kisses the blood up – Rowan seems somewhat perturbed by this. They drink, play cards but as Rowan tells the story of being stalked by a customer from work she seems to pass out. Emily and Brendan carry her to bed but, when Rowan awakens, she sees a figure that looks like Emily sat on her bed. Fully awaken, and no-one there, she goes to the bathroom to vomit. Emily comes in and, as they speak, we see that Rowan has scars on her arm from evident older self-harm.

seeing a shower of blood

As the film progresses, filmed firmly from Rowan’s viewpoint, she becomes convinced that Emily is drugging her (Rowan becoming ill through part of the stay), cutting her and drinking her blood. Certainly, new cuts are appearing on her arm. The trouble is Rowan might not be a credible witness and the film does a great job in keeping what is true obfuscated. Rowan's objective credibility might be damaged by her fever, and what she sees may be a fever dream, but also she may (or may not) sleepwalk and as the film progresses we discover that the story of the stalker was fundamentally inaccurate. As for Emily, there is certainly things in her past – she lost her sister as a child and suffered a breakdown later because of it and she is described a couple of times as “in recovery”, though never revealed for what (it may be the breakdown or something else).

Is Emily drinking blood?

I will not spoil this any more than I perhaps have – though I think the above is spoiler light. The film is a character study and the two primary leads are both excellent (not ignoring Aris Tyros but the film is about the two women and his role is more a foil). The pace is, however, fairly languid – hence me likening it to the other two films at the head of this review. What is missing is perhaps some stronger atmosphere of suspense, but sometimes Rowan breaks that in seemingly letting her paranoia go for a moment and we wonder why – but then the inconsistency is another reason for her lack of credibility. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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