loodletting" is a low budget film that lets us
in on the little known fact that, underneath all that blood spilling and mass
killing, serial killers are people just like us. Or something like that. Written
and directed by Matthew Walsh, "Bloodletting" tells the tale of Serena
(Ariauna Albright), a bored young woman who decides she wants to become an
apprentice to Harlow (James Edwards), an elusive serial killer who apparently is
not elusive enough.
Her reason? Poor Serena has never achieved a real sexual
orgasm in her life; that is, until she witnessed Harlow murder her best friend.
Since Serena is the kind of gal who likes her orgasms, she tracks down Harlow, a
plain-looking young man living in the suburbs, and blackmails him into taking
her under his wing. Harlow grudgingly agrees, and after the duo's first murder,
things take a strange turn, as the serial killer couple becomes more bickering
spouses than America's most wanted.
"Bloodletting" has a very interesting premise,
and the oddball relationship between Serena and Harlow is actually quite a novel
set up. Unfortunately the movie suffers from Low Budget Movie Syndrome and is
unable to completely shed its genesis. In this way, it falls into the trap of so
many low budget films; that is, the technical expertise to set up, light, and
shoot a scene in a crisp and clear manner is simply not there. Or perhaps it was
a matter of not enough time; whatever the case, the film has moments where it
just doesn't look very good.
The cinematography by David Wagner is the prime suspect
here. The interior scenes are just not very good to look at, mostly because, I
suspect, there is very little technical competency with the lightning. The
movie's (much better) exterior scenes prove this out, as you would be
hardpressed to guess the film's budget from the crispness provided by bright
Another pitfall of most low budget films is inconsistent
acting. The acting level in "Bloodletting" dips and rises in any given
scene. Star Ariauna Albright has top billing, although I'm not sure why because
it's James Edwards who steals the show as the flippant serial killer, Harlow.
Edwards looks like Howard Stern jokeman Artie Lange, but with the comic
sensibilities of Drew Carey. The man acts rings around his co-stars, proving
himself to be more than the material. It's not my intention to dump on Albright,
because she does get better as the film moved along.
The problem with some low budget films is that the director
feels it is necessary to overdo it in some categories in order to make up for
what's lacking. The gore in "Bloodletting" is done with glee, even if
not every one of them passes muster. A scene where a character's penis gets
bitten off looks much too fake; the whole thing might have come through better
if it had taken place off screen, with the, uh, dismembering implied rather than
shown in gory detail.
Walsh obviously cut his teeth on low budget gore, as many
filmmakers in his area do, and it shows. Although with the material he had at
hand, perhaps cutting down on the gore and choosing instead for more plotting
and implied violence would have been the better choice. Even though there are
times when Walsh's screenplay suffers from too much glibness, the makings of a
good script is here. Sometimes the dialogue comes out wrong, and sometimes
(especially in the beginning) actors just don't deliver their lines as well as
Walsh probably hoped. The two "cops" in the beginning are especially
There is a lot to like about "Bloodletting", but
there's also a lot I don't care for. There is a twist at the end that
comes completely out of left field and makes absolutely no sense, even if you
could suspend that much disbelief. It does leave me to wonder if Walsh wrote the
"confession" sequence into the script or if the whole thing was added
at the last minute in an attempt to give the viewers a "shock ending."
Whatever the case, the movie didn't need it.