Serena Stalin isn't like most normal women; she wants to learn how to kill and not just from anybody, but from the best. She tracks down Butch Harlow, a notorious serial killer who has managed to elude the police for many years, and who directly had an effect on Serena's life when he killed her friend while she hid in the closet. While it takes blackmail to convince Butch, he inevitably agrees and the two head down a bloody path that may spell the end for both of them.
"Bloodletting" is one of those movies that I've wanted to see for the longest time, back when it was released on VHS by Dead Alive Productions, but I just never got around to it. So I was happy to hear that the folks at Tempe Video were willing to send me a screener to review for Film Bizarro. In all the years that I've wanted to see the movie, I still never really heard anything about the movie, good or bad, nor had I seen the trailer. My desire to see it came strictly from screen shots and the premise, and a little bit by the fact who it was being released by. So I went into the movie a blank slate and I must say this is a movie that caught me by a big surprise.
I'll admit, I really wasn't expecting a good movie when I went into it. I figured this was going to be a typical basement production: shot on video stock, bad acting, simple storyline, cheap SPFX, and lots of gratuitous gore. Yes, even though I'm a fan of these movies and enjoy them, even I'm guilty of making prejudgments on their quality. Really, I couldn't have been more wrong about this movie. The first thing that took me by surprise, is that is a very dry movie in terms of bloodshed. It's there when it needs to be, but even then, it's still in very minimal amounts. I say that this is one of the most surprising aspects of the movie, simply because low budget films tend to be the goriest. Because they are using the gore to make up for lack of quality in production values or any other parts of the movie that may be lacking. So to see one that is very skimpy on it was not only surprising, but also almost appreciated because it's not done very often. The other thing that surprised me is, that while the story isn't exactly complex, it does have a number of twists and turns to it that makes it mildly interesting. But it's because this is entirely a character film. In most horror films, low or bid budget, the characters are often shallow and as two-dimensional as you can get. Here, "Bloodletting" is pushed along completely by our two lead characters, a serial killer and the woman who wants to be one. Much to the bemusement of the viewers, the death scenes are few and far between with minimal amounts of blood to make way for heavy--heavy scenes of dialogue and character development.
I wish I could expand more on this movie, but the truth is that there really isn't much to talk about. The story is written fairly well, in comparison to its peers, and throws in some twists and turns to help keep it interesting durin the runtime. It moves along fairly well, thanks to the lead characters that push everything along in the movie. This is a dialogue heavy movie and because of that, it's more than noticeable that writer and director Matt Walsh was influenced by Quentin Tarantino (Even without the line used in the movie, "You're acting like a character out of a Quentin Tarantino movie.”) and movies like "Natural Born Killers". The characters are eccentric and over-the-top at times, and even though they're the bad guys and are going around killing people, you are rooting for them and cheering them on. So for a change, this is becomes a low-budget basement production that is actually about characters and story rather than a cheap gore thrill ride. I want to say it's a good movie, but it's really not. With that same token though, it's also not a bad movie. For a production like this: the acting is acceptable for what it is, they actually tried to make the cinematography interesting and have camera movement (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't), while not an exciting movie it moves at a reasonable pace. It's the fact that it does things differently and that it is written fairly well for what it is keeps me from wanting to call it a bad movie.