We’ve all been invited to a friend’s cottage, right? It’s festive, things are laid back; everyone’s having a good time. But what happens when you don’t feel like you belong? Even worse: what happens when you feel like your friend invited you over to kill you? We discover how things unfold as “Bleed with Me” made its world premiere at Fantasia Festival’s online edition.
Rowan (Lee Marshall) is invited by her colleague-turned-friend, Emily (Lauren Beatty), to her secluded cottage in the middle of winter. Accompanying them is Emily’s boyfriend, Brendan (Aris Tyros). Shy and reserved, Rowan senses her presence is not truly desired, at times. At the same time, however, she seems to be getting mixed messages from the couple, amidst odd events occurring such as Emily sucking the blood from her finger after cutting it and strange shadows paying her a visit in the middle of the night. Through a series of events, Rowan is convinced that her friend has dragged her there to steal her blood. Is this truly what’s going on?
“Bleed with Me” comes to us from Fantasia’s home province, Quebec, Canada, from writer/director Amelia Moses. Despite being on a modest budget and having only 3 characters in its entire film, Moses succeeds in imposing an awkward atmosphere within the first half of the film. The odd situations that our main character, Rowan, is placed in, along with some silent pauses in the midst of conversations, add an uneasiness that may remind us of the discomfort felt in 2015’s excellent “The Invitation”, albeit at a toned-down level. Lee Marshall is extremely authentic in her introvert, self-destructive character. Her posture, lack of eye contact, and low, soft tone of voice overflow with genuineness.
Unfortunately, that’s where the positivity ends for this film. It is definitely a psychological slow-burner, which I can appreciate, but the plot seems to turn in circles in the middle frame, leading into the final act. The “private” conversations between Emily and Brendan aren’t very secretive at all, as they speak quite loudly and Rowan hears pretty much all of them through the cottage’s walls. Emily also begins to treat Rowan like a child, which is her goal to coax her, but Rowan keeps going along with it, as if she actually was a child, making it quite annoying for the audience. And while Lee Marshall is quite credible in her role, Lauren Beatty is well under par as her performance seems mechanical and unnatural. The odd editing of fade-outs of certain scenes combined to dream sequence after dream sequence of “something seems to be creepy but our protagonist keeps waking up” become more than a nuisance.
When you layer all of these irritating factors together, culminating to quite a letdown of an ending, “Bleed with Me” comes out as a disappointing psychological slow-burner. Despite wanting to give some love to a movie coming out of my home province of Quebec, I must remain honest and give the film a score of 5/10.
Articoe written by SIMON ROTHER