Director: Patrick Picard
Notable Cast: Liam Aiken, Joe Adler, Annalise Basso
The works of Edgar Allen Poe have certainly inspired, well, essentially anything having to remotely deal with macabre material to this day. Some of it is more directly involved such as direct adaptations and others are more inspired in tone or concept. The Bloodhound, “inspired” to a great degree by Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, is a modern retelling that takes the basic premise and injects a slow burning and often incredibly uneasy awkwardness to everything. It’s Poe for the A24 age, a tale of collapsing health and sanity, wrapped in a particular style and approach one might describe as quirky. If anyone wanted a Wes Anderson style Poe adaption, embedded with a suffocating sense of oddity and modern impending existential dread, then look no further than this strange and delightfully uneasy film.
This review might end up being a bit short, simply because The Bloodhound is a film of pure minimalism in script, style, and tone. Taking the basic tenants of the original story from Poe, the narrative and plot play it light and loose. The exposition and character development are subtle and directly built into the dialogue while the tonality of emptiness within the house and character beats adds further awkwardness to the proceedings of bringing the story to a modern age. The Bloodhound is about the space between people, the silence between words, and the attempts at bridging them more than it is focused on delivering a plot driven thriller, which it could have easily gone with if the intent was to be more mainstream. With two performances that ably parallel this intention, the film has a knack for being as fascinating as it is frustrating in its lack of detail.
Director Patrick Picard injects a ton of intentionality into the minimalist approach to writing and characters. The visuals are sharp and focused, despite the lingering shots, and the performances of the two leads match the pacing and tone of that visuals and atmosphere which allows the film to reside in the moment. The cinematography is also incredibly impressive, just punctuating all of the intent of the story. All of this creates a setting of the film, that being the modern house - one that was perhaps modern decades ago but feels almost retrograde in its own way, that is its own character. As one character notes, the house is a living thing and The Bloodhound impressively crafts this in its visuals and tone. It’s one of the reasons this film works so well on multiple levels in updating the Poe tale.
As The Bloodhound unravels, unveiling a lot of mysteries and questions - including the strange titular “creature” that appears a handful of times in the film, there is a sense that answers will never be achieved and the film lives up to that feeling. This is a film meant to be vague, which will certainly appeal to specific horror and arthouse cinema fans, and every piece of the plot, character choice, and visual moment is rife with symbolism towards the messages of its narrative. Whether its lack of answers, glacial pacing and awkwardness will work for audiences is one that is a preference on the intention of one’s cinematic watching, but for this reviewer, The Bloodhound is a unique and often unnerving experience worth the watch.