Fantasia Film Festival Screening – Rowan (Lee Marshall) is exhausted. She can’t ever seem to get enough sleep, and is plagued by night terrors and sleep paralysis. When her coworker Emily (Lauren Beatty) invites her up to her family’s cabin in the woods for the weekend, Rowan jumps at the chance. It’s a little awkward – Rowan doesn’t know Emily or her fiance, Brendan (Aris Tyros) that well. Sure, Rowan and Emily have a friendly rapport and have had moments of bonding, but a weekend with your coworker and her fiance seems a little more intimate than all that. Add to that Emily’s sweet but strange penchant for mothering Rowan, and Rowan’s feeling ill nearly as soon as they arrive, and the creepy feelings of discomfort sneak in early in this weekend getaway. After more than enough to drink, and some middle-of-the-night caregiving from Emily, Rowan wakes up feeling less than great, compounded by the frightening and disturbed night’s sleep she got. Things are hazy, and somehow both dreamy and nightmarish. She’s grappling with her anxieties, her feelings of belonging, and her immense jealousy. All she wants is what Emily and Brendan have. Brendan and Rowan spend some time up late chatting, much to Emily’s dismay, and it isn’t until Brendan points it out that Rowan realizes she has a deep cut on her left arm. As events unfold and Emily’s pushy “nurturing”, nursing nature begins to frighten Rowan, she begins to suspect the worst. Emily must be stealing her blood. She’s a vampire. Or some kind of freak with a fetish. It makes sense – she’s too perfect to be real. Too stoic, too pretty, too put together. Rowan grapples with reality, and with her failing health, as the truth begins to come out not just about Emily, but about Rowan’s true intentions in spending the weekend in the woods. BLEED WITH ME is what I’d call an extreme micro-budget success. Armed with three actors and a cabin in the woods, writer and director Amelia Moses creates a palpably disturbed and disturbing atmosphere. For a film titled Bleed with Me, there’s very little of the actual substance itself, which allows us to focus on the intimate, quiet story. I’m always refreshed by a horror film that truly relies on psychological horror, rather than resorting to jump scares or shock tactics (Which have a place, just not in movies like this). While Emily and Rowan may be having identity crises on their own, BLEED WITH ME knows precisely what it is and commits to it with gusto. BLEED WITH ME is a refreshing take on the feminist horror feature – not resorting to the usual tricks, while alluding to where it could go. Just as Rowan’s imagination runs wild with her assumptions and suspicions about Emily, our imaginations are allowed to run wild with what could, or might, or will happen. Deliciously suspenseful, and not pandering or overwrought, BLEED WITH ME is a credit to its genre, a credit to female filmmakers, and a credit to the micro-budget feature. Remarkably timely, this film highlights what isolation, time stuck with only one person, and severe paranoia can do to a person. In a mood that highlights so much of 2020, especially here in the United States, everything feels equally surreal and too real – like a horrific, but somehow beautiful nightmare. Ambiguity is an asset for BLEED WITH ME, and I’m curious to see the different reads that viewers will give this trip of a tale. BLEED WITH ME premiered at Fantasia International Film Festival on August 26th.
Makeup Artist, Monster Maker, Educator, Producer, Haunt-lover, and all around Halloween freak. When Miranda isn't watching horror films, she's making them happen. When she's not doing either of those things, she's probably dreaming about them. Or baking cookies.