Sunday, March 14, 2010

'Bleed' is junk with two good scenes

Bleed (2002)
Starring: Debbie Rochon, Danny Wolsky, Allen Nabors and Laura Nativo
Directors: Devin Hamilton and Dennis Peterson
Producers: Charles Band and JR Bookwalter
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

A masked killer is slaughtering everyone who comes in contact with Maddy (Rochon), an emotionally disturbed young wowman who was tricked by her new boyfriend (Wolsky) into thinking she can gain membership in something called "The Murder Club".

"Bleed" is perhaps a one-of-a-kind movie in the Charles Band Collection, as it is one of the very few films he's produced that doesn't include some sort of fantastical element, be it restless spirits, living puppets, or invaders from outer space. In fact, it is such an unusual film for Band that he chose not to release it under the Full Moon label, but instead created Shadow Entertainment to keep the other brand "pure."

Unfortunately, this film is yet another failed collaboration with JK Bookwalter and the usual suspects associated with his productions.

"Bleed" is a third-rate slasher film that at one point in its existence had a script had asperations of being a character-driven piece. But, either that script was written with great incompetence, re-written with great incompetence, or never properly finished, because for a film to be character-driven, there needs to be believable relationships between the characters. No such relationships exist in this film, with the romance/relationship between the two main characters being the least believable of all.

Maddy arrives in a new city and a new job, completely unknown to anyone she meets here. Yet, after two dates and a couple of nights of sex (safe sex, with condoms involved the film civic-mindedly points out) these total strangers are spouting lines as if they've known each other for years ("this isn't like you!") and other characters consider covering for Maddy when she murders someone in an apparent attempt to get into "The Murder Club." None of this rings true due to the fact that she is a stranger to everyone, including the guy she is banging.

Another problem is the absolutely awful attempts at misdirection included in the film. On multiple occassions during the film, Maddy has vivid nightmares about the murders, including the pre-credit sequence killings which she has no knowledge of. She she psychic? Is she the killer? Does she have some sort of psychic link to the killer? Two of those questions are answered as the film unfolds, but the third results in a huge, gaping plot hole that sucks most of this film's entertainment value into it more efficiently than a black hole. It is such a tremendous flaw that I am flabbergasted no one said, "You know, we really should just drop those murder flashbacks. They're dull and they are more cheats than misdirection. And how do they make sense when compared to the end of the movie?"

Or maybe no one had the opportunity to object? Maybe they were added later in the process, during final editing, because someone wanted to spruce up the film in a very misguided way? Maybe two directors and two producers were too many for the soup in this case?

Whatever the reason, the numerous dream sequences make no sense in light of the film's ending, with one exception: The dream that gives us a little background on Maddy. It's also a fun scene all around, as it features cameos by Brinke Stevens (playing against type) and Lloyd Kaufman (in one of the many tiny roles he's played in low budget films as larks or favors to other filmmakers). It's also provides one of the film's strongest moments, aside from the ending.

Speaking of the ending, it's the one thing that works 100 percent in this film. I've always said that endings can make or break a movie, because it's the main thing viewers take away from it. Here, we're given a spectacularly creepy ending--and an unexpected one at that--but it comes after a movie so fatally flawed that it barely managed to save it from ending up in my "Movies to Die Before Seeing" category.

All in all, this is film you don't need to bother with. It's an interesting detour for Charles Band and Debbie Rochon gives one of the better performances I've seen from her, but there are simply too many other things wrong with this film to make it worth sitting through. Even if it finally delivers something cool in its closing moments.

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