The Bleeding House
The Bleeding House, arriving this week at the Sunset 5 under the aegis of Tribeca Films, concerns the Smiths, a Texas family harboring a deep secret that has rendered the cushy isolation of their wooded suburbia vaguely sinister. Their already precarious position crumbles upon the arrival of a serial killer in an ill-fitting white suit (played by Patrick Breen with great commitment and a horrible accent), who after some small talk sets to torturing the family as forced penance for their past transgressions. Aspiring to the sort of atmospheric horror that’s very much in vogue on the festival circuit these days, first-time writer-director Philip Gelatt conceives House as a combination of Funny Games, Night of the Hunter and every torture-porn film of the last decade, but his direction — a bland pastiche of obvious horror touchstones from Hitchcock through ’80s trash to contemporary foreign extremism, sloppy beyond the worst of mumblecore — can’t maintain the control of tone necessary to create a truly unsettling air. Eighty-seven sluggish minutes of unmoored moral transgression, House is emblematic of a disappointingly large percentage of middling festival fare: It’s yet another genre exercise with pretensions toward intellectual heft that its undercooked aesthetic and themes can’t fulfill.
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