The Fall of the House of Usher, one of Edgar Allen Poe’s more notable works, is one that has been adapted and re-imagined several times for the screen. For those Price fans out there, you’ll remember the 1950 Roger Corman film that adapted the Gothic classic. With its relatable themes surrounding mental illness, isolation, and family, it’s no wonder that the story yields such inspiration for both creators and consumers alike. Now it’s providing inspiration in Patrick Picard‘s directorial debut, THE BLOODHOUND. Proving both timely and well-executed, this modern revamp provides an uncomfortable slow-burn that will have you following its trio of characters as they spiral further and further.
THE BLOODHOUND is directed and written by Patrick Picard. The film stars Liam Aiken (A Series of Unfortunate Events), Joe Adler (The Maze Runner), and the criminally underused Annalise Basso (“Snowpiercer“). Shot within an isolated setting, where the trio lives together inside the confines of this cloying home, Picard makes great use of the space to tell his story and, from start to finish, creates an unsettling, uncomfortable atmosphere for his cast to play around in.
Francis (Liam Aiken) is invited to the secluded home of his wealthy childhood friend, JP Luret (Joe Adler). Suffering from an unknown ailment, JP desires company and wants to rekindle a friendship long lost. It’s not long, though, before things get uncomfortable. Francis learns that JP and his twin sister Vivian (Annalise Basso) are the last members of the family line and have isolated themselves away from the outside home. Their legacy weighs on them as family members slowly succumb to depression and madness. How much of it is a self-fulfilling prophecy or not is left up to us as we watch the two friends try to re-establish their connection from years ago. However, not everything is as it seems and, the more Francis finds himself staying with his friend, the more trapped he becomes. It’s up for him to determine whether he’ll allow himself to sink further with these siblings or if he’ll climb his way out any way that he can.
With a short runtime of 72 minutes and a lot to get through, Picard wastes no time in chucking his audience into the story. Dynamics are established with the direction given. We’re immediately tossed into uncomfortable territory in the opening scene, with a strange masked man crawling his way into the house before Francis’s arrival. Establishing a tone that puts the audience on edge, the off-kilter energy is amplified with the muted, almost sterile color palette utilized, sound production, and the isolated setting. With the cast’s deft handling of the script, though, the audience can be completely and utterly sold on what Picard is aiming to pull off.
Adler’s and Aiken’s chemistry work well together as two old childhood friends trying to rekindle their relationship of yore. The clear personality and socio-economic differences between the two easily create that tension necessary to drive the story forward. Once Aiken’s Francis commits the act of betrayal, the clues that Picard has interwoven in the script along with the groundwork Aiken and Adler have laid out leading up click in place. The one downside is the limited use of Basso in this story as Vivian. One could argue the character’s inclusion is unnecessary if it weren’t for the source material THE BLOODHOUND is pulling inspiration from. This is more of a note against The Fall of the House of Usher rather than a ding against Picard’s screenplay.
A directorial debut that embraces the gothic The Fall of the House of Usher and reimagines it is a tall order. However, Patrick Picard pulls it off. With a full understanding of the source material, he creates a script that takes us on a journey, where we must untangle the information we receive from the seemingly unreliable and mentally unhinged JP. With its isolated setting, dips into madness and its modern update, THE BLOODHOUND feels all too relevant in this year of our lord COVID-19. For horror fans expecting high-intensity, temper your expectations. The film is more in-line with the slowburn gothic horror of its source material. For fans of Edgar Allen Poe, THE BLOODHOUND makes a familiar story feel fresh and, for that, it truly makes one excitedly wonder what Picard will tackle for his sophomore project.
You can now catch THE BLOODHOUND on Arrow Video’s new subscription-based ARROW platform.
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