The Smith family has a secret, the kind best served by the horror genre.
“The Bleeding House” puts a dysfunctional family through the wringer courtesy of a stranger who sounds as friendly as Mr. Rogers – at first. The new DVD release grabs viewers by the scruff of the neck, but absent a compelling third act this “House” needs an extreme makeover.
Matt (Richard Bekins, “Limitless”) and Marilyn (Betsy Aidem) Smith are struggling to make ends meet like too many families these days. But their economic plight is tied to a family secret affecting more than their bank account. Their teen daughter Gloria (Alexandra Chando, “As The World Turns”) spends her days displaying dead insects in her room and can barely carry on a conversation. Son Quentin (Charlie Hewson, “Holy Rollers”) would rather hang with his girlfriend than endure the funereal atmosphere back home.
When a kindly stranger dressed in white (Patrick Breen) knocks on the Smith’s door, the family reluctantly invites him inside. His car has broken down and he could sure use some shelter until the morning.
The stranger is a Christian, and his folksy manner sets the family at ease. But the man’s random appearance is no accident. The Smiths’ sins have brought the devil to their doorstep.
Count “The Bleeding House” as the latest film to target people of faith, but the film’s religion bashing is handled with restraint. Credit Breen for knowing the scariest movie monsters speak in hushed tones. Even if you knew the ghastly thoughts crossing the character’s mind you might consider at least giving him a cup of coffee before sending him on his way. Breen makes the character that intriguing.
Writer-director Philip Gelatt makes the most of both the confined setting and secretive looks ricocheting around the Smith home. But the acting apart from Breen is unconvincing, and once the stranger reveals his true purpose the film begins a slow, steady march toward mediocrity. Why not draw out those first few hours when the stranger enters the Smith’s home? He’s barely set his suitcase down before he reveals his true colors. Breen is having a blast as the avuncular visitor, a man willing to listen as the Smiths confess a measure of their current woes.
By the final reel we’re stuck with a poorly developed victim and two dopey cops who would make Barney Fife blush.
“The Bleeding House” hits DVD with an alternate ending superior to the denouement chosen for the final cut.