The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Arrow Video Channel] - THE BLOODHOUND | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Arrow Video Channel] - THE BLOODHOUND

the bloodhound review
A young man finds himself in a strange scenario when he visits an old childhood friend.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Patrick Picard

Starring: Liam Aiken, Joe Adler, Annalise Basso, McNally Sagal

the bloodhound poster

When Edgar G. Ulmer made his considerably loose 1934 adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's The Black Cat, he defied convention by setting it not in some creaky old cobweb infested castle, but in a very modernist mansion. For his similarly loose take on Poe's 'The Fall of the House of Usher', first time writer/director Patrick Picard has followed Ulmer's lead, with his drama playing out in a home from the Frank Lloyd Wright school. This gives it a similar aesthetic to recent modern updates on the old "crazy reclusive man in a castle" trope, such as Ex Machina and Elizabeth Harvest.

the bloodhound review

As in Poe's story, a young man receives a letter from a sickly old friend who lives a reclusive life with his similarly unwell sister in their sprawling family home. Here it's Francis (Liam Aiken) who winds up at the plush home of JP (Joe Adler) and his sister Vivian (Annalise Basso). JP appears to be suffering from some variant of consumption, and has lost the will to leave the house, while Vivian's condition is so bad that she refuses to leave her bedroom. Or at least, that's how JP tells it, as Francis never actually sets his eyes on Vivian, though he does hear her making noises (or is it something else?).

At night, Francis is plagued by strange experiences, including the visit of a creepy girl in the shadows of his room, and a hooded figure who crawls out of a wardrobe. JP passes these incidents off as nightmares, and Francis is oddly passive in accepting such reasoning.

the bloodhound review

There's a unique dynamic at play between Francis and JP, one that requires much suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewer. JP is clearly mad, but Francis never seems particularly bothered by his increasingly odd behaviour, which reaches a peak with an assault on a pizza delivery boy. At one point JP locks Francis in the basement after sending him down to fetch some champagne. For most of us, this would be the point where we call a cab and get the hell out of there, but Francis brushes it off as the two young men continue their passive aggressive relationship, both suspicious of one another's intentions but unwilling to betray their thoughts.

With cinematographer Jake Magee and art director Mara Certic, Picard has created a visually striking feature debut with some beautifully composed images. It's the very definition of a film for niche tastes, but even if it's not for you, Picard is to be applauded for committing so rigidly to his vision. The purposely stilted performances of Aiken and Adler echo those found in the films of Yorgos Lanthimos, and their illusory acting styles will likely prove the greatest test for whether or not viewers reach for the remote in search of more conventional fare.

the bloodhound review

In its most blackly comic moments - such as a wrestling bout between Francis and JP while zipped into sleeping bags - The Bloodhound resembles an absurdist chamber piece along the lines of Philip Haas's The Music of Chance. It's essentially a two-hander, and if you can't get on the quirky wavelength surfed by its stark storytelling, you may find it a bit of a patience tester. I managed to stay on board out of curiosity value more than anything else, and the film does have a rewardingly bleak coda that makes it worth sticking with. But like the barely furnished, modernist home it plays out in, The Bloodhound is a film that could use an injection of warmth and life.

The Bloodhound
 is on Arrow Video Channel now.

2020 movie reviews