Directed by Matthew Jason Walsh (1997)
Reviewed by MaT, added on Jun 23 2005
Serena (Ariauna Albright) is a little messed up in the head. You see, she tracks down serial killer Butch Harlow (James L. Edwards) and forces him to teach her how to kill without being caught. After he vehemently refuses, she threatens that information about his identity will be given to the cops if she "disappears" and he begrudgingly takes her on as his apprentice. The unlikely partnership eventually turns into love, even as Serena starts spiraling out of control. See, he doesn't want to kill people every night, for fear of being caught. She "loves the blood" and can't stop her lust for killing. This inevitably causes friction and leads their relationship to a violent and bloody end...
After listening to the horror stories the cast and crew went through in making this film, I couldn't believe it came out as well as it did. Bloodletting is one of those films that rises above its mediocre technical trappings. The story is interesting and the concept is what holds the film together. Albright and Edwards have a generally good rapport with each other even though many times they look completely disinterested in what's happening. This probably had a lot to do with the tension on set and unfortunately, it shows in some of the scenes. Thankfully, most of the shaky interaction and acting doesn't really take away from the story that much. When you sit down to watch a low budget film, you aren't really going to expect Shakespearean acting, so in respect to other low budget films, Bloodletting does a good job in that respect. It's better than a lot of stuff I've seen.
There was some really cool stuff in the film, my favorite being the baby that explodes when Butch shoots it with the shotgun while dressed as a Priest (and Serena dressed as a Nun). The whole scene was nicely shot and will no doubt shock and offend our more "conservative" leaning citizens :) A lot of the dialogue was above average and some of the humor was spot on. I laughed out loud in a couple places and enjoyed the "scope" that the script attempted. The ending was also well done and a fitting coda for our two serial killing psychos.
The main problem with Bloodletting is that it seems a little too ambitious for its own good. Frankly, the script is a little more than the actors are capable of handling. Don't get me wrong, they do a fairly good job, but there seems to be way too much dialogue and not enough action. There is so much dialogue in the film that it makes it seem longer than it really is...and not in a good way. There are long stretches where the film grinds to a halt and scenes that don't seem to fit feel like they have been inserted simply to pad the running time. Director Matthew Jason Walsh certainly didn't graduate from the "show it, don't tell it" school of filmmaking.
But the film succeeds more than it fails. I never lost interest while I was watching it and some of the scenes are quite good for what they are. If you like your low budget serial killer flicks talky with exploding babies, then you won't be disappointed with Bloodletting. I just wish some of its flaws had been cleaned up a little.