Trust is a tricky thing. We want to trust people, but it can be hard to do. Especially if you’ve trusted the wrong person before. What can be harder is to stop trusting someone, even when your instincts tell you that things aren’t right. And that’s the dilemma at the core of Bleed With Me, the debut feature by Amelia Moses (Undress Me).
Rowan (Lee Marshall) has been invited to spend time at the cabin her friend Emily (Lauren Beatty) shares with her boyfriend Brendan (Aris Tyros). Rowan seems somewhat shy and awkward, while her hosts seem quite the opposite. The first night there Rowan passes out after drinking too much. But after a night of strange dreams and waking up with cuts on her arms she starts to wonder if it was something much more sinister.
Writer/director Amelia Moses refers to Bleed With Me as heightened horror, which I take to be another term for elevated horror. And indeed much of the first hour is such a slow burn it feels like a drama as much as it does horror. A dark, paranoia-fuelled drama, but a drama none the less. Like Climate of the Hunter, the festival’s other film about potential blood-drinking, this is not a film for those who need jump scares.
That first hour builds up a palpable feeling of unease and suspicion. Is something going on? Or is it a mixture of alcohol and Rowan’s own issues playing with her mind? That answer seems too obvious though, Emily is so perfect and Rowan seems a bit off. She reminded me of Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club actually, not dangerous, but not normal either.
At one point she steals the keys to her friend’s car, but can’t bring herself to drive away. Even as her suspicions build, Rowan isn’t sure if she should trust herself. Or maybe she’s so desperate for a friend that she’s willing to ignore what she seems to be experiencing. And we’ve all experienced that kind of denial. We don’t want to believe a friend would take advantage of us or that our partner is unfaithful, despite the signs pointing to it. And that makes both Rowan’s confusion and Bleed With Me believable.
Bleed With Me will make you uncomfortable more than it will scare you. You won’t jump, but you will squirm. Especially during the final act. It’s the kind of film that gets under your skin quietly. There are some moments of shock, and a couple of fairly bloody moments, but this is much more about psychological than physical horror.
Bleed With Me will make its world premiere August 26th as part of this year’s Fantasia Film Festival, with an encore showing September 1st. There will be a live Q&A with Director Amelia Moses and Actors Lee Marshall and Lauren Betty after the first screening. The screener I saw had an Epic Pictures logo on it, so it looks like Bleed With Me has distribution lined up. You can check the film’s website and Facebook page for announcements.