Bloodshot Heart (CFF) Delivers Tepid Psychological Horror Drama
Title: Bloodshot Heart
First Wide Release: TBD
Director: Parish Malfitano
Writer: Parish Malfitano
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Starring: Richard James Allen, Emily David, Natalia Ladyko
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here (TBD)
This film’s review was written after its screening in the Chattanooga Film Festival 2021.
Driving instructor Hans (Richard James Allen) becomes infatuated with the new tenant, Matilda (Emily David), who moves into the spare room of his and his mother’s apartment. She reminds him of a lost love that until then had been long forgotten. Hans’s desire takes over and he finds himself plotting to make Matilda his to make up for lost time. What entails is a sad and frightening tale of just how far a person will go to make a memory into a current reality. Can Hans take control of his delusions or will he lash out against reality in favor of the dreamworld he has concocted inside his head?
Bloodshot Heart is a warped horror drama with deeply unwell characters that doesn’t surpass the potential it’s given.
A darkly fantastic and disorienting descent into madness, Bloodshot Heart depicts the unravelling of Hans as he struggles to differentiate his reality with his desires. It’s clear that Hans is mentally unwell and is at the mercy of his choice to discontinue taking his medication. We are thrust into a world where he is dangerously obsessed with Matilda whom he keeps referring to as Sarah, a long-lost love who he may bear some responsibility in her disappearance.
The story starts out strong but fades into weird territory the longer the film progresses. The viewer never really knows what is going on, which can be appealing for some, but confusing for others. Outside of Hans, the motivations of characters are not particularly well defined or even alluded to at all. It takes away from Hans’s development and character, as he can only be defined by the straight acting of the rest of the cast. Hans isn’t poorly written by any stretch of the imagination; he’s just very generic in the sense that his story has been told time and time again.
It’s unclear where exactly Director Parish Maliftano is going with this feature. Maliftano attempts to link the concepts of obsession and mental health together, showcasing the dangers of hyper fixation and how it persists despite environmental reinforcement to the contrary. Hans has a supportive, albeit overbearing mother, a job he seems to enjoy, and good relationships with his friends. All of this is erased by one woman moving into a spare bedroom who resembles an unrequited crush he had years prior. It’s not unreasonable to ask the audience to make this leap, but is it compelling? Not in my opinion.
I can recognize that Bloodshot Heart is a competently made film with solid stylistic flair. Richard James Allen delivers a dynamic performance as Hans, making the offbeat premise more palatable and intense with his off-kilter portrayal of the madman at its center. The rest of the cast does a fine job as well, but Allen clearly carries here. Towards the end, there are some beautifully filmed psychedelic sequences that churn up some interesting imagery even if they never really capitalize on the freakiness of the setting. In general, it’s beautifully filmed and chock full of interesting and unsettling imagery.
A convoluted and surreal film, Bloodshot Heart waxes on the dangers of obsession and the devastating effects traumatic events can have on the living. What starts out as a promising feature of a man’s twisted affections for a disinterested woman turns into something bizarre and unrecognizable about halfway through. While I can’t say the film itself is poorly done, I’m not the biggest fan of it. It’s got plenty going for it and I’m sure there are many that will enjoy the odd storyline and brash characters. Bloodshot Heart shines in its casting, cinematography, and effects department making it a highly stylish, if forgettable, film. Reliving the past is never a good idea, but maybe you’ll find some virtue in this Australian feature.
Overall Score? 5/10