Describing a movie as “stylish” is a double-edged sword. Here’s a compliment to the new thriller The Bloodhound: it is very stylish. If you are a fan of mid-century modern architecture, you will be in heaven. On the other hand, though, The Bloodhound is more style than substance.
Writer/director Patrick Picard’s debut owes a lot (a whole lot) to Edgar Allen Poe’s 1839 short story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” with a gorgeous, secluded California home replacing the eastcoast Usher mansion, and an opening summons-by-text updating the original’s handwritten letter.
The Bloodhound: Secluded creepiness
After a stunningly creepy opening sequence, we begin with the reclusive Jean Paul (Joe Adler) reaching out to his friend Francis (Liam Aiken), saying he’s “not well and could use a little help.” Francis takes the bait and arrives to find that that’s an understatement; between Jean Paul and his bedridden sister Vivian (Annalise Basso) no one seems well, locked away in a dark, quiet and gloomy house.
Things proceed to go bump in the middle of the night, but Jean Paul doesn’t believe that anything is amiss – he describes his home as “very much like you’ve entered a dream, for better or worse.” Not really going to boost his AirBnB rating.
To tell you what happens next would be a poiler, and it would also stretch the idea that much does happen. Production designer Arielle Ness-Cohn is the star here, using the sharp angles of the house to make Francis and the viewer uncomfortable, and letting the lights bounce off of the shiny surfaces to make unwelcoming shadows.
House of Usher updated in The Bloodhound
Questions and riddles are presented here, but not resolved. There’s a menace to the central relationship which doesn’t really fit where the characters are at this point in their lives. While J.P. does come across as sexually predatory, weirdly entitled and narcissistic, and of a different place and time, Francis seems more contemporary – the type who would just peace out of this nightmare.
I really would have liked there to be an age difference in the casting, or perhaps for both of the men to have been in their late 40s, with more desperation to their lives.
The result is all mood, not too much substance, but worth your time – a quick 72 minutes – on a rainy night.
The Bloodhound is part of Arrow Video’s streaming lineup for the U.S. and Canada.
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A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.