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Review: Nightstream’s “Bleed With Me” is a Horror Film About Friendship

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Review: Nightstream's "Bleed With Me" Is A Horror Film About Friendship

Bleed With Me, written and directed by Amelia Moses, is a horror film about emotional vampires. A detached, introverted girl visits her extroverted friend and boyfriend at a winter cabin—at first, everything seems to be great, but Emily (Lauren Beatty) is a bit controlling towards Rowan (Lee Marshall), the one who is visiting. They’re best friends though they bicker, which puts Brendan (Aris Tyros), Emily’s boyfriend, in an awkward situation. 

They seem to like each other even though they are very different—Rowan is shy and withdrawn, and Emily is outgoing, motherly, and a take-charge type—the type to carry extra napkins in her purse. But Rowan wakes up with scratches and cuts on her arm; if she didn’t do it to herself—how did it get there? Rowan thinks Emily is sucking her blood at night, as in, sneaking into her room while she sleeps, cutting her open, and sucking her blood.

The subtext is that Emily is an emotional vampire who sucks Rowan dry of energy. Emily exhausts Rowan; she is always telling Rowan what to do; she even tells her when to take a nap. At first, it feels as if Emily is a concerned person who cares about her, but she enjoys telling Rowan what to do so much, it’s creepy. And perhaps it’s not out of concern; maybe she needs to keep Rowan around so that she can use her. Maybe Emily is an emotional vampire and, if so, they’re the worst—they are at heart, users.

Bleed With Me Image

Users take and never give back, sucking you dry; they want whatever you have or have access to, even if it isn’t much. Maybe you have nothing—they want that too. Sometimes users don’t look smarmy; they can appear to be kind and supportive so that they can suck your blood and move on to the next person. There are several types of emotional vampires, but overall they use people for their own needs, whatever needs those might be.

Emily doesn’t look like a blood-sucker: she’s competent, confident, warm, and friendly. What could she possibly need from Rowan besides friendship? Rowan, who is sweet and reserved, confesses that she wanted to be friends with Emily when she first saw her. She makes an odd revelation about how she initiated their friendship and what is even weirder is that Emily knows about it.

Who’s the weird one? Emily or Rowan? Well, Rowan isn’t trying to drink Emily’s blood, and it soon feels as if Emily has captured Rowan in her cabin—to fatten her up like a calf with attention so that she can suck her blood. Gashes keep appearing on Rowan; is she cutting herself and forgetting? Is she a cutter, or is Emily gaslighting her?

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Bloodsucking in Bleed With Me is a great visual metaphor for users and selfish people. Interestingly, the title is Bleed With Me, not Bleed For Me; what could that mean? That the bloodsucking is a symbiotic relationship? Rowan is to give, and Emily is to take. Or does “Bleed With Me suggest that Rowan is a giver because it implies that Rowan is the one who cut herself for Emily? “Bleed With Me” sounds like, “Let’s bleed together.” Perhaps Rowan has willingly allowed Emily to use her emotionally for years until she couldn’t take it anymore.

Bleed With Me is a wonderfully slow film—it’s good to have a grounded pace because the premise is a weird one. We need time to explore Rowan and Emily’s relationship, the target, and the possible vampire. The cinematography (René Arseneau) of the winter cabin is beautiful too; the images of the snow and trees are soothing as if the whole thing is a dream, a lulling dream.

There’s a visual of a slaughtered rabbit in the beginning—many people hate seeing animals killed even if it isn’t real. Though I cringed in horror, it shows that Emily is ruthless and possibly bloodthirsty. Bleed With Me is a discerning horror film about friendship. It suggests to be careful of who you let into your circle and mind; if you give to a person, make sure they’ll do the same.

Bleed With Me premiered at Nightstream, a virtual, collective horror festival.

Bleed With Me Poster

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