Director: Patrick Picard
Starring: Joe Adler, Liam Aiken, Annalise Basso
Run Time: 72mins
Well, you wait ages for “The Fall of the House of Usher” adaptation, then two come at you at once. Yes, hot on the heels of “Lady Usher” (reviewed back in October) we now have “The Bloodhound” another loose modern-day adaptation of Poe’s classic tale. Although this is a very different take as the former was more extravagant and colourful affair were here, we have a more austere, haunting vision.
Both have one thing in common, though they are both very odd films. In neither case is this a criticism, but if you go in expecting a straightforward horror, you will be sorely disappointed. The eerie off-kilter tenor of the film is established from the off as a balaklaved man emerges from a river bed and commando crawls into a house before hiding in a wardrobe without explanation.
The house as it turns is owned by JP Luret (Joe Adler) and his twin sister Vivian (Annalise Basso) who he is taking care of while dealing with a mysterious illness of his own. To keep him company in this luxury secluded family home, he invites over a childhood friend Francis (Liam Aiken). It is difficult to say more much plot-wise without spoiling things other than to say, as you can guess, strange things start happening in the house and between all three.
Then again, possibly it would be more accurate to say to delve deeper into the plot would be futile. As this is a movie built on atmosphere and the performances of its central cast, the plot is almost beside the point. To the extent that the film spoils its own plot as nearly everything that unfolds is explicitly foreshadowed by JP. Curiously, though it remains somewhat interesting.
This is undoubtedly down to the performances of Adler and Aiken who carry most of the film and the awkward chemistry they have together as old friends reacquainting themselves. Despite being a largely off-screen presence Basso also makes an impression, lighting up the few scenes she is in.
The strongest performance though comes from Adler, who makes JP a sinisterly eccentric figure. Who veers between being a near-sociopath and a crushingly vulnerable loner. Of course, given the year we are in any tale of social isolation and the craving of human connection is going to hit a raw nerve, but the pervading sense of sadness here would have been affecting even if it that was not the case. If anything, it is loneliness that most haunts the crumbling Luret home.
In terms of scares, there is little to write home about. Certainly nothing in the way of explicit scares. But then that is probably beside the point, as this is a slow-burner that is out to unsettle rather than scare and does so through its off-kilter tone and oppressive tone. There look of the film also draws you in. Patrick Picard has a meticulous style that makes you think if Wes Anderson made horror movies, it would look this way.
For all the good here, there are frustrations too. The story ultimately feels slight, and while the slow-burn is mainly effective, there are also times where it feels like literally nothing is happening. Also, by the end there is something unsatisfying about the way the story is constantly exposing its own hand, leaving the viewer nothing in the way of surprises.
Towards the end, regarding life, JP thinks aloud that he always thought there would be a meaning, that it would add up to something before asking Francis, “Does it?.” The same question could be aimed at the film itself. Despite that, there is just enough here to make it a worthwhile watch.
Overall: “The Bloodhound” oblique nature, slight plot and leisurely pacing will naturally put off some but its excellent performances, stylish visuals and claustrophobic atmosphere means there is still plenty to recommend it, making it a solid calling card for debut director Picard.
"The Bloodhound" is now available on the Arrow Player