Fans of Edgar Allan Poe are being spoilt with another movie adaptation of “The Fall of the House of Usher”. As we await a release date for George Adams’ Lady Usher, first-time feature writer-director Patrick Picard offers his take on the famed gothic story with The Bloodhound.
This austere and haunting modern-day adaptation opens with a text message from Jean Paul (Joe Adler, The Maze Runner) to his old friend Francis (Liam Aiken, A Series of Unfortunate Events) telling him he’s “not well and could use a little help.” It soon becomes clear that the two had been out of touch for a while, but Francis’ current living situation means he eagerly accepts J.P.’s invitation to join him and his twin sister Vivian (a mostly unused Annalise Basso, Snowpiercer) at their secluded home.
Strange events unfold within the increasingly alienating interior, from J.P. forbidding Francis speak to Vivian, to the two men’s uneasy and unbalanced dynamic, and the suggestion of the Bloodhound (Chad Kotz) crawling through the house, face completely obscured. It is never clear whether this creature is real, an allegory, or just a stylistic choice. Either way, The Bloodhound relies greatly on an atmosphere of suffocating menace, which makes this psychodrama a draining watch – even at just 72 minutes.
And while the movie’s slow burn works for the most part, the narrative itself ultimately feels too thin to leave its audience with any lasting impression. The characters’ lack of backstory or personal depth means there are no emotional or intellectual stakes in their fate (the closing act falls completely flat as a result); meanwhile, the mystery of the Bloodhound fails to be compelling enough to demand answers.
The Bloodhound is undoubtedly best appreciated as an exercise in style. The aesthetic, score, dialogue, and acting choices work well to keep the audience off-kilter throughout the film’s run time, and just curious enough to keep viewers watching until the end credits. It’s also enough to keep us intrigued as to what Picard might do next.
Out now on Arrow Video.