directed by Patrick Picard
starring Annalise Basso, Liam Aiken, Joe Adler
You know those dreams you have after the second time you hit snooze on the alarm? Those really short, vivid dreams that you spend much of the day trying to shake from your psyche. You try to leave them behind but they keep gnawing at you. Patrick Picard’s 2020 film The Bloodhound is the cinematic equivalent of one of those dreams.
Essentially a reworking of Edgar Allan Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher but instead of a crumbling castle the action takes place in a striking, remote, Modernist house. The Luret twins Jean Paul (Joe Adler, Twin Peaks: The Return) and Annalise Basso (Ladyworld) suffer from the same unnamed malady, Jean Paul invites his old childhood friend Francis (Liam Aiken, Road to Perdition) to visit. Francis is broke with no place to live in L.A. so he has limited options so he stays on to help fill Jean Paul’s loneliness, but things soon turn troubling and dark as the two old friends play ever escalating mind games against each other. The title comes from the manifestation of one of Jean Paul’s dreams about a strange creature who can enter a house and spread malevolence amongst the house’s residents, which certainly comes to pass, whether caused by a creature in the closet or the souls of the people.
The Bloodhound is a masterpiece of passive aggressive horror. All of the characters are passive aggressive toward each other and the film is passive aggressive toward the audience. The film has no scares per se, but has a palpable discomfort that runs throughout forcing the viewer to question everything that they see and everything the characters say. It is psychology over jump scares, disquiet over gore. Visually the film is dark, moody, and exceedingly claustrophobic and the film and its characters’ interaction are deceptively complex and the interweaving of dreams and reality keep the narrative forever off kilter. It would have been nice to see this film with an audience, as some of the twisted humor of the film may have landed better with more people. Narratively the film defies expectations and was frankly a bit of a slog the first time through, but on second viewing it becomes wickedly fun, but still deliciously uncomfortable.
Arrow Video’s Blu-ray delivers a nice really nice package for this micro-budget film complete with an audio commentary, behind the scenes documentary, and some of Patrick Picard’s short films. The audio commentary with Picard and the film’s editor David Scorca that elucidates much of the film’s ambiguities and the challenges of making movies without a luxurious budget.
It is a shame in a year with a number of strange, housebound horror films (The Lodge, Saint Maud, Gretel and Hansel) The Bloodhound would get relegated to a video release, but it is absolutely worth seeking out for fans of modern macabre.