Bleed With Me (2020) is a small production with a small cast that has all the pieces of being a successful indie horror film. However, writer and director Amelia Moses struggles to find balance in the tone of the piece, and the story never quite comes together. The performances reflect the characters who seem to be unsure of what they are worried about or what they want for themselves. Sadly, the attempts at a mystery feel superficial, and the payoffs never really click.
Rowan (Lee Marshall) comes across as a sleepy, shy, and awkward young woman who is trying to feel welcome while on a weekend getaway with her “best” friend, Emily (Lauren Beatty), and her clearly annoyed boyfriend, Brendan (Aris Tyros). On the first night, Rowan drinks a bit too much while trying to alleviate her nerves, and as a result of Emily constantly refilling her glass. The drunkenness pushes her into a deep sleep where she begins to see hazy visions of nightmarish behavior of someone in the cabin.
To establish the hazy visions, there are point-of-view shots from Rowan’s perspective. The visuals are literally hazy in these moments, specifically around the edges. It’s an interesting choice, but not one that simulates any prolonged state of vision I’ve ever experienced. This is established early on as Rowan is sleeping in the backseat of the car while they are on their way to the cabin. It is a definitive choice that allows the obscuring of some of the early visions that Rowan has, and adds to the “nightmare” element of the experience.
The dialogue never feels natural or stylized enough as the film goes deeper into the nightmare. Much of the information starts and stops in fragmented lines of dialogue as characters second guess what they are doing. Obscuring the details that have led them into their current mental states or personalities comes across as a mystery, but it never pays off in a meaningful or impactful way. Once information is given, it just feels like going down a list of “needs” for the film, and putting a check by them as they are finally revealed.
There are some striking visuals throughout the film. However, the characters were never compelling enough to pull the viewer into the odd experiences they appear to be having. Beatty was the standout of the three performances, but her character was probably the most perplexing. Bleed with Me never quite clicked for my horror sensibilities, earning the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.