The breakdown of friendships into the realm of horror has always been a theme fascinating me; the amount of paranoia needed to turn an object of comfort into terror being a difficult feat. However, films such as Let’s Scare Jessica to Death and Always Shine have shown that this subject is ripe for horror while appealing to a universal fear – losing trust with those closest to us. Thus, I was excited when I saw the wonderfully titled Bleed With Me, written and directed by Amelia Moses, make its way to Shudder as an exclusive. Promising a tale of paranoia and bloodlust between two friends, I was excited to give this one a shot.
What Is It About?
During a winter getaway at an isolated cabin, a self-destructive young woman (Rowan) becomes convinced that her best friend Emily is hiding a dark secret. Nightly blackouts, and waking up with small cuts on her body, Rowan begins to suspect that her blood is being stolen.
Subtly is the key to establishing an early sense of dread within Bleed With Me, from the extra pouring of wine to hushed conversations whose meaning is obscured in grim observations – there is a pervasive sense of unease permeating the production. As a result, the seeds of distrust are sown before the relationship turns malicious. Undeniably, Amelia Moses understands how to build tension among friends by relying on subtle cues such as mini-aggressions and passive slights.
Once the production begins to pick up the pace, there are some stunning horror visions around Rowan, possibly delusional, such as witnessing her friend drenched in blood. Granted, the actual shock value in these segments are muted to keep in tone with the film, but these nightmarish visions help to imbue the production with a more traditional horror narrative. Essentially, the production balances a psychological thriller with horror to form an idyllic balance.
Bleed With Me finds the perfect actor in Lee Marshall as the troubled Rowan. Projecting a sense of insecurity on first introduction, the young woman’s reasoning for staying in a dangerous scenario is essential to crafting a believable narrative. Thankfully, Marshall gives a strong performance that allows the audience to believe that vulnerability, but also see enough spark to desire her to overcome a precarious situation. The rest of the cast is well-rounded, with Lauren Beatty giving off consistent unsettling vibes to make the audience apprehensive of her actions and Aris Toyes conveying frustration of being caught between the awkward relationship of the two friends. Lee Marshall, however, gives an unforgettable performance as Rowan, highlighting the production.
The visual and audio design is complimentary, the score by Dominic Caterina wonderfully daunting at key points and the cold Canadian winter making for the perfect backdrop to capture isolation. Unfortunately, the production largely stays serviceable to the narrative and is one of the least engaging aspects – not a negative but only passable in execution.
Building a sense of mystery, as the lines of reality and intent are blurred, the conclusion is abrupt. However, the climax leaves the viewer in a haze, picking apart the content of the film to try to make sense of it all. Ultimately, Bleed With Me exemplifies the strength of subtlety in horror to keep the viewer on edge from start to finish – it understand how simple concept can push a deeper profound horror.
What Did Not Work?
As mentioned, the visuals are serviceable to the narrative, but at the same time, there is certainly room for improvement. Notably, the sequences that find Rowan in a fugue state as she vaguely sees Emily move around her room could have been much more frantic or intense. Feeling like a missed opportunity, these segments along with a few others feel like they could have been punctuated with more pronounced visuals without sacrificing atmosphere or narrative.
Existing at a brief hour and twenty minutes, the film could have done with additionally conflict between Rowan and Emily. Interestingly, this is just the case of wanting more of an excellent aspect where the film never feels lacking.
Where Can I Watch It?
Bleed For Me is only available on Shudder. If you want to check out this exclusive, you need a subscription.
Bleed With Me is going to be an acquired taste considering the meticulous pace that is set to unnerve audiences rather then scare. The film was previously touted as a ‘slow burn’, but even this moniker is slightly misleading as there it a lack of pay-off that often plays out when people use that description. Instead, the film may be best described as a existing in a constant state of uncertainty, placing the audience in the uncomfortable situation that Rowan faced – always asking what they would do if they suspected a depended upon friend of malicious acts.
Personally, I found myself entranced by the story and performances. This elevates the film up there with some of my personal favorites that tackle the theme of friendships breaking down – like the previously mentioned Always Shine and Let’s Scare Jessica To Death. Consequently, I can see the film holding a cult status among certain audiences, yet falling drastically out of reach of even being entertaining to others. Regardless, the anxiety evoking film from Amelia Moses will leave a strong impact on certain viewers and you deserve to check it out to see if you fall in that category.
Greetings, My name is Adam and I am from Canada.
My love for all things bizarre came at a young age, as boredom in a small town lead me down a rabbit hole of obscure film, music, tv and literature. I have carried these fascinations with and turned it into a passion for writing, sharing and discussing the various arts.
My area of expertise, if there was one, would be geared towards Asian horror with a particular interest in film and manga. However, if it is odd, disturbing or trashy I probably heard of it or can at least pretend I have in conversation.
Thank you for taking the time to read my work, I always look to grow both as a writer and fan. I truly appreciate anyone willing to come along for the journey and share their passions in turn.