Title: The Bleeding House
Director: Philip Gelatt
Starring: Alexandra Chando (‘As The World Turns’), Patrick Breen (‘Men in Black’) and Betsy Aidem (‘Far From Heaven’)
While his characters are trying to run from their past, first time director and screenwriter Philip Gelatt is trying to pave the way for his filmmaking future with his debut movie, ‘The Bleeding House.’ The horror thriller, which had a successful run at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, strives to create an original idea about the fear people have when dealing with their past actions in a genre that’s success is based on purely violent sequels and remakes. While Gelatt deserves credit for striving to create a unique story and characters, the end result fails to live up to expectations.
‘The Bleeding House’ chronicles the life of the Smiths, a seemingly happy Texas family that includes reclusive 16-year-old daughter Gloria (played by Alexandra Chando) and 18-year-old son Quentin (portrayed by Charlie Hewson), who’s determined to move out with his girlfriend Lynne (played by Nina Lisandrello). While their parents, Matt (portrayed by Richard Bekins) and Marilyn (played by Betsy Aidem), are determined to keep the family together, a past secret that has damaged their social standing in their town seems to be tearing the Smiths apart. The family tries to resolve their problems after a mysterious preacher, Nick (portrayed by Patrick Breen), shows up at their door one night. He claims his car broke down on a nearby road, but won’t be able to get a tow truck until the next morning, as the town is desolate. But Nick seems to be keeping a terrifying secret of his own.
Chando, who has made a name for herself on television, including a regular role on ‘As The World Turns,’ and received top billing for ‘The Bleeding House,’ is the true breakout star of the horror thriller. She truly understands Gloria’s determination to keep herself isolated from her family and her constant need to revolt against her parents, like most teen girls do. However, Chando skillfully makes Gloria appear so happy to distance herself from, and rebel against, the social norms and her family’s desire to assimilate back into the community. Marilyn hints to Nick that Gloria has had trouble in the past, but never fully explains what kind of misfortune she got into. But Chando makes Gloria’s abnormal behavior, including killing small animals and keeping their bodies, so intriguing and the audience almost forgets to question why Gelatt didn’t delve further into her background.
While Chando successfully created suspense with Gloria, Breen unfortunately failed to lived up to his younger co-star’s performance. Nick is supposed to initiate a change in the Smith family dynamic, and help them reconnect by discussing their feelings with an outsider who has no knowledge of their past. While Breen does bring a sense of mystery to the movie, as viewers will question who he is and how he ended up at the Smith house, he unfortunately doesn’t connect with his character. He doesn’t truly seem like a secretive man with mysterious intentions, which is a major driving force of the plot.
Gelatt came up with a creative storyline that makes viewers question who’s the protagonist and who’s the antagonist of the film, as both the Smiths and Nick have cryptic pasts. But the writer and director unfortunately failed to make ‘The Bleeding House’ live up to its promised potential, as the characters and story are undeveloped. Gelatt primarily relies on the suspense of not revealing the characters’ past, and instead focuses on how their previous actions influenced their present behavior. But without divulging the characters’ actions sooner, such as why the Smiths are shunned by their neighborhood, the movie begins to lose its appeal.
‘The Bleeding House’ is a promising first directorial and writing effort from Gelatt, showing audiences that he’s more interested in relying on suspense than blood and gore to propel a horror film. Combined with Chando’s believable, interesting and realistic take as the isolated Gloria, the movie, which is now available On Demand through Tribeca Film, deserves credit for trying to take risks in a genre that thrives on visual effects. But without developed characters and a true sense of danger, the movie unfortunately fails to live up to its true worth.
Written by: Karen Benardello