Fantasia Review: ‘Bleed With Me’ is a slow, but sure, burn set in the Canadian wilderness

There is always an interesting dynamic between new friends. Some people take to one another immediately, but most times new friendships take time and energy to create and strengthen. Time needs to be spent and conversations need to be had and trust needs to be built.

This is the place we find the three characters in Bleed With Me: in the no man’s land between just having met and having forged a real relationship. Emily (Lauren Beatty) has invited Rowan (Lee Marshall) to her family cabin to spend time with her and her boyfriend Brendan (Aris Tyros). It is at first awkward as any trip like this between tentative friends might be.

Emily and Rowan have a connection, but that connection is not yet full defined. After their first night spent drinking Rowan wakes up feeling the worse for wear and with mysterious cuts on her forearm the question becomes how will it be defined?

Writer and director Amelia Moses winter set, slow-burn horror film takes its time letting you marinate in this question. Is Rowan having some kind of break? Is she hallucinating, dreaming, or assaulted? What are Emily’s motives, and what is in all of the drinks she conspicuously insists on fetching? Is something going on, or not?

Marshall and Beatty are both excellent in their parts, with Marshall taking down a road of sleepless paranoia and Beatty making sure that Emily never seems quite right.

All of this is exacerbated by the remote setting of the story, the tiny family cabin set deep in the woods, further isolated by the winters snow, traps Rowan in an environment that is altogether warm and welcoming as well as unfamiliar and foreboding. Moses does an admirable job of letting the tension in the situation ratchet up slowly, and the location lends a lot to the character’s inner stories.

As the story progresses and the lines between reality and Rowan’s paranoia begin to blur, you’ll be left squirming in your seat as you try to anticipate the twists and turns the story is about to make.

Bleed With Me is, if I am not mistaken, Amelia Moses’ first feature, and it’s the type of film that should land her firmly on your radar for whatever she does next. It is definitely one you should add to your list.

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