I am all for horror that takes new direction to its approach! With so many films using the same played out premise with an interchangeable villain, I am happy to dive into a film that seems to alter that predictable formula. That was my first impression with Bliss, seeing scenes soaked in colour and being unsure on its premise. I was excited to be able to finally sit down and finally see what this film had to offer and I was not disappointed. Written and directed by Joe Begos, who directed Almost Human (2013) and VFW (2019) and released by Dark Sky Films.
What Is It?
The film follows brilliant but struggling artist Dezzy, who has lost her inspiration and is days away from being evicted. Dropped by her agent, she falls into an old habit of abusing drugs in an attempt to finish her masterpiece. This inspiration spirals into a psychedelic hell-scape of sex, drugs and murder in the seedy underbelly of L.A.
The film is visually stunning, with amazing use of colour throughout and beautiful cinematography, creating a disorientating trip that mimics what the main character is experiencing. The camera work is smooth yet unusual, relying on strange panning camera angles and movement to disorientate rather then an uncomfortable, disjointed approach. The soundtrack by Steve Moore is a perfect balance of modern rock and synth heavy ambient terror, fitting for an hour and twenty minute acid trip of a film like this.
The horror in Bliss is slow building and sporadic in its use during the first and second act, causing the viewer to be unsure if what they had just seen actually happened or whether it was a drug-induced hallucination. Leading to a similar sense of paranoia as Dezzy awakens on her apartment floor in a daze, struggling to piece together the night before.
What Didn’t Work
The character Dezzy is well played by Dora Maddison but the character of Dezzy herself is obnoxious and highly unlikeable, inadvertently ausing a lot of negativity towards the film itself. Having spent the younger years of my life living a bohemian lifestyle, living with artist of all different types in London, I can safely say that I have met that type of person far too many times and Dora’s performance mimics their attitude and sensibility effectively. Although, for a main character, this does bring up the problem that an audience is not going to care what happens to an unlikeable character.
Where Can I Find It?
Bliss is available to stream via Shudder, Amazon prime, Youtube and Google Play store. Copies on DVD and Blu-Ray are available as well.
I personally enjoyed this film: a beautiful, colour-drenched, drug-fuelled descent into madness. The film is best enjoyed like a hallucinogen, swallow it, sit back, enjoy the ride and let it wash over you. With influences from classic film makers such Lucio Fulci, Gaspar Noé and Abel Ferrara; it truly is a feast for the eyes as a visual spectacle. If you can get past the somewhat unlikeable main character, this film is definitely worth your time. It does not deserve the bad press it has gotten.
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Hey there, I’m Jim and I’m located in London, UK. I am a Writer and Technical Director here at Grimoire of Horror. A life long love of horror and writing has led me down this rabbit hole, allowing me to meet many amazing people and experience some truly original artwork. I specialise in world cinema, manga/graphic novels and video games but will sometime traverse into the unknown in search of adventure.