‘The Bloodhound’ Blu-Ray Review – Slow Burn Horror Conjures Dread From Classic Edgar Allan Poe Tale

To use Edgar Allen Poe as the basis for your narrative is not exactly a bad call. Such a figure did not gain icon status for lack of talent, after all. It is all in the execution where it is truly determined if your flight of fancy was just a pretentious exercise or if you have what it takes to mold well-worn text into something necessary. While not credited on screen as the inspiration, first time feature director Patrick Picard uses the classic “The Fall of the House of Usher” as the foundation for his dreamlike story that reeks of isolation and regret. Rather than some craggy manor dripping with opulence, this modern tale – that still maintains an uneasy timelessness about it – is set in a mid-century modernist equivocation. As much of a character in this narrative as any other, this house is somehow concurrently a bastion of wealth to some and a reminder of the impermanence of life to others. It seems like an awfully big place for only two people, so it is not so odd to Francis (Liam Aiken) when he is called upon to come stay with a long-lost friend for an undetermined period of time. 

Of course, there is a bit more to it than that. His friend Jean Paul (Joe Adler) has been out of touch for at least a decade, and he cryptically alludes to an illness as he reaches out to his old companion for some assistance. The initial reunion between Francis and JP is normal enough as these two old friends catch up on life events with leaps and bounds under these awkward circumstances. JP reveals he has not ventured outside his house in two years, and the only other person he has had regular contact with is his even more reclusive twin sister Vivian (Annalise Basso), who keeps herself shuttered in her room and apparently has not been right since their father died. JP admits to not doing so well himself; a general sense of melancholia is mentioned, and is somewhat backed up by a brief visit from a doctor (McNally Sagal). There is something very strange going on inside this house, but whether or not this is the fault of the house itself or the people residing in it is kept intentionally opaque. 

The Bloodhound is not a film for the casual horror fan. Even the casual arthouse horror fan may have some difficulty getting totally entrenched in this narrative. This is a deliberately slow burn tale that does not reveal much that will truly horrify you, but may burrow inside your psyche enough to keep that spine tingling. The first night Francis is in the house, he gets the first of two unexpected visits from Vivian as she slithers into his room in the dead of night only to say, “Get out of here, or you’ll die like the rest of us,” before exiting just as she entered. Yet, when Francis confronts JP about the encounter, he is clear that it must have been a dream – the house has a way of playing tricks on the inhabitants. Is JP gaslighting Francis or can we trust what has been presented to us? It is this incongruous reality that keeps you off balance the rest of the film as this seemingly straightforward “extended sleepover” is anything but. 

The other major potential nightmare fuel is the titular “Bloodhound” (Chad Kotz), a creature(?) who we first see army crawling out of the riverbed, into the house and into a closet. Is this figure a corporeal entity or simply a part of JP’s dream as described? This entity adds to the movie’s sense of dread, but it also acts as a way for people to come together once softened by fear. This is one of the main themes of the film; the pain that one feels from self-imposed isolation and the attempt to let others in for a spiritual respite. Much could be written about the overt and subtextual sexual overtones between these two long-lost friends. Adler does an excellent job of bringing a believable eccentricity to JP without making him a caricature. You know that there are numerous differences between these two friends, if not in sexual dynamics then in class disparity and core, conflicting desires. This movie is filled with slow, subtle moments, but it all contributes to this building characterization. 

While most may not be riveted the entire time, even the most restless audience members should be forgiving of the spry 72 minute runtime. This is not a movie that reveals its secrets in any substantial way upon reaching the end of the journey. It is more about finding the layers underneath the story that takes hold of you throughout. If you are like me, even your initial viewing may leave you a bit disappointed, but this is a film that refuses to leave you long after it has concluded. It will grow with you if you let it thanks to its disorienting narrative and impeccably executed filmmaking. There is much to appreciate from a technical and performative standpoint even if you find the narrative comes up short. It is a difficult movie to recommend to most audiences, but those willing to engage with it might come away genuinely unsettled. 

Video Quality

The Bloodhound debuts on Blu-Ray with a 1080p presentation in 1.65:1 from a high definition master that mostly captures the film well. With this being an independent affair, it is quite impressive how sleek the film is with pretty stunning camerawork along with some purposeful grading choices to help establish mood. The movie presents with a great amount of detail and clarity in the textures of the clothes and production design. There is slight banding in certain shots, but it is not pervasive throughout. For a story that often relies on darkness to build tension, it is important to have deep black levels, which this thankfully does. Objects hold up pretty well in the shadows and retain their depth. The bright whites of the few exterior shots experience nothing in the way of blooming. Overall, this is a really solid disc that showcases the work well. 

Audio Quality

Arrow Video delivers this new Blu-Ray disc with a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track that gives nice life to the productions. The dialogue holds up quite nicely, coming though clearly without being stepped on by the score or sound effects. The environmental effects are delineated nicely with some eerie house sounds and some of the movement of The Bloodhound. This movie thrives when it is spotlighting the emptiness of the house. The movie is accompanied by selections of music such as Mozart that are rendered well here. This is a track that represents the film in a very satisfying way. Optional English (SDH) subtitles are provided on this disc.

Special Features

The first-pressing of the Arrow Video Blu-Ray of The Bloodhound includes a booklet featuring the essay “House of Melancholy: Dreams and Death in Patrick Picard’s The Bloodhound” by film critic Anton Bitel. This piece provides great context to the story for those looking to analyze the themes a little further. The booklet also includes a Director’s Statement from Patrick Picard discussing his process of developing this story, along with another brief statement about a few of his short films. The on-disc special features are as follows: 

  • Audio Commentary: Director Patrick Picard and editor David Scorca provide a commentary track for the film that provides some pretty interesting and amusing insights. The pair discuss the actor who played “The Bloodhound”, the disappointment of modern architecture, using filmmaking techniques to establish the mood, the origins of the “worm fight” and much more. 
  • On The Trail of The Bloodhound – Behind the Scenes of a Modern Chiller: A well-produced 45-minute featurette in which the cast and crew discuss the origins of the film, the characteristics that the performers brought to their roles, the production design and lighting of the film, the feeling of isolation that bled into the production and more. There is some interesting behind-the-scenes footage interspersed throughout the interviews. 
  • Patrick Picard Short Films
    • Bad Dream: A minute-long piece which involves shadowy hands and a women’s chorus. 
    • The Muffled Hammerfall in Action: A 50-second piece that plays with light and music. 
    • The Mosaic Code: A 30-second piece with multi-colored pixelated squares. 
    • Wiggleworm: An unsettling 50-second piece involving superimposed body parts and what appears to be blood splatter. 


Final Thoughts

The Bloodhound is not the most accessible horror film. It feels strange to even call it a horror film, even if it does offer a sense of dread that is hard to shake if it hits you right. It is a dark, slow burn that is embodied by two great performers bringing these two characters to life in a most satisfying fashion. Arrow Video has offered up a Blu-Ray with a pretty wonderful A/V presentation and a nice selection of supplemental features. If you are an adventurous horror fan, this one is worth checking out with the knowledge of how slow and methodical it can be. Recommended 

The Bloodhound is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray.

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Arrow Video has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.


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