Mumblegore is back, baby! Well, maybe it’s not “back” back, but it’s definitely back in the form of Amelia Moses’ feature debut chiller Bleed with Me, an exploration of three friends who wind up in a cabin in the woods together. Ultimately, this film is a strong debut slow-burn, and asks us to consider the ways in which our trauma’s manifest themselves as the horror of paranoia.
When Rowan (Lee Marshall) joins Emily (Lauren Beatty) and her aloof boyfriend (Aris Tyros) for a remote weekend getaway, strange occurrence ensue. There’s obviously more to this than that simple sentence provides, but pretty much the best starting place one can approach Bleed with Me. That, and the fact that Rowan, who has a history of self-harm, begins to believe that Emily is stealing her blood. Standard friend stuff of course.
Most small-budget first features struggle to really make what they have at their disposal part of the film’s overall aesthetic package. In Bleed with Me, Moses does not have the budget for powerful set-lights, or large action set-pieces. So, she improvises, using natural light sources, a strong colour, and well-composed negative space, to really communicate the slow, creeping dread at the film’s heart. There’s a sad quality to this film, which really invests you in the characters, and simultaneously, forces you to consider just what the horror is. Mostly, the film’s cinematography is flat out gorgeous; more than occasionally, it’s meaningful too.
Moreover, there’s a real independent at the heart of Bleed with Me. Watching the film, I was reminded of films such as For the Plasma, which have a decidedly independent flavour. This film feels small, is small, and yet, packs a pretty hefty punch as is needed.