BLEED WITH ME is one of the films we were so very privileged here in the Graveyard to check out as part of our pre-screening peek at Fantasia International Film Festival 2020 and this one was very important for us to check out. Why, you might ask? Well, BLEED WITH ME is Canadian, specifically French-Canadian from Quebec, and as a Canadian horror blog, there’s something so very necessary about amplifying the great work being done by Canadians – because as Canadians we have such distinct and unique stories to tell. BLEED WITH ME was made with support from Talent Fund and Telefilm Canada which seeks to amplify the voices of upcoming Canadian filmmakers. But aside from a kind of national pride at covering Canadian cinema – director Amelia Moses has laid herself bare in her feature debut BLEED WITH ME and her voice, while distinctly Canadian is also so distinctly female. BLEED WITH ME touches on something that is so utterly important and yet rarely talked about – the relationship between female friends.
I read an article a while ago where women surveyed said that the ending of long term friendships between their female best friends was worse than the breakdown of marriages, worse than divorce. A best friend is such a fraught concept to girls and women, and it is rare that media touches on the true representation of these often intense and heady relationships. And BLEED WITH ME really takes a headfirst dive into the complicated nature of female friendship. The film opens with Rowan accompanying her best friend Emily and Emily’s boyfriend Brendan on a week long getaway to Emily’s family cabin. The setting is wintery and decidedly Canadian, and the cabin is cozy, however, it’s apparent from the beginning that Rowan is something of the third wheel. Brendan at points seems hardly able to disguise his chilled politeness to Rowan, seeming to tolerate her, but only barely. Emily is beautiful, put together, and even on a casual vacation is dressed like a stylish model. Rowan, on the other hand, is a little plainer, dressed in sweaters and jeans, and there is a way that Rowan looks so longingly at her friend that I initially suspected that Rowan may have had some significantly unrequited love feelings for her friend. As the trio drinks and smokes, and prepares their evening meal, it becomes apparent that Rowan probably shouldn’t be drinking to the level she is, and she becomes intoxicated, muttering about how once a woman followed her home from work before passing out stone drunk.
The depiction of nervous drinking is so convincing, just that desire to fit in, that anxiety and want to be accepted, seen as cool or anything other than the plain version of yourself that you are. I found myself in an odd way reflected in Rowan.
Rowan’s intoxication leads to her becoming sick, and she spends the night in fitful sleep, dreaming horrific sleep paralysis-like nightmares about monsters, and blood. She wakens seemingly still unwell and is fed hangover remedies by Emily before embarking on a snowy walk where the trussed up corpses of dead rabbits litter the landscape. Rowan’s sensitive nature and sensitive stomach leaves her reeling and she returns to the cabin sicker than before and spends the rest of her “vacation” seemingly in and out of a dream like hallucination that feeds her paranoia that her friend Emily is something other than what she seems, and that Emily may be stealing her blood in the night.
BLEED WITH ME plays the line between reality and fantasy quite close, and the audience spends the majority of the film in and out of the hallucinations and paranoia of Rowan, like a trip sitter on the same bad trip. While I suspected that Emily’s motivations were less than innocent, I was not expecting the sheer “what the actual fuck” levels of twist that came with BLEED WITH ME’s unravelling. Emily’s own family tragedy plays out into the age old tale of victim becoming abuser. BLEED WITH ME touches quite masterfully on themes of mental illness, psychosis, Munchausen syndrome, our need to be cared for, and as mentioned previously – the entirely complicated world of female friendships.
I pose the question thusly – for female readers – who amongst us hasn’t had one of those friendships, a burning desire to be like your friend, to know her intimately, to have what your mind tells you she has? Studies have shown repeatedly that we become like our friends in bother mannerisms and speech – and that we fall into roles with friends in our lives, and it is BLEED WITH ME that asks hard questions about the nature of those roles, and leaves the answering up to the viewer.
Clocking in at a trim 79 minutes, BLEED WITH ME features only three actors – Lee Marshall’s Rowan, Lauren Beatty’s Emily and Aris Tyros’s Brendan. The setting is primarily a woodsy cabin, and it’s evident that even with a limited cast and set, that the power of BLEED WITH ME shines through the humble nature of itself.
This film is taught, heady, and ultimately an amazing win for Canadian independent cinema.
For director Amelia Moses, this debut feature makes us so very excited to see what more she has to offer.
Follow her on Twitter.
DIAG RATING 5/6
You can check out more of our Fantasia coverage here:
The Drunk in a Graveyard guide to the TEN FILMS we are most psyched about at Fantasia Fest 2020.
Coverage of 上田慎一郎 Shinichiro Ueda’s SPECIAL ACTORS, Neil Marshall’s THE RECKONING, short film DOPPELBÅNGER here, as well as our podcast episode on Justin McConnell’s documentary Clapboard Jungle here. And be sure to stay tuned for more coverage coming up soon, and follow our social media to keep up!
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