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  Bloodhound, The Ushered In
Year: 2020
Director: Patrick Picard
Stars: Joe Adler, Liam Aiken, Annalise Basso, McNally Sagal, Kimleigh Smith, Gaby Santinelli, Dylan Gentille
Genre: Horror, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A masked figure emerges from a lake and pulls itself up onto the shore, whereupon it drags itself along the ground until it is at the front door of a mansion. As if it is being chased and needs to hide, it clambers into the house and along the floor, eventually reaching a bedroom where it heads straight for the closet. It opens the sliding panel and climbs inside, then closes it after. There is now something in the closet, but is there anybody in the house? As a matter of fact, there is, it belongs to the Luret family, of whom there are two remaining, a brother, Jean Paul (Joe Adler) and sister, Vivian (Annalise Basso) who hardly talk to one another on account of her mental instability.

Mind you, Jean Paul is not exactly the picture of mental health either... Sometimes an old story gets a reboot, and that is what was happening with The Bloodhound, which though it did not state it upfront was a variation on the Edgar Allan Poe tale The Fall of the House of Usher from well over a century before. Classic horror characters are reinvented again and again, so why shouldn't writer and director Patrick Picard give this a go himself, it was in the public domain after all and this sort of approach can keep vintage material fresh for a new generation, not to mention generations to come.

The reaction, however, was not a huge hit as Roger Corman had enjoyed with his Poe imaginings from the nineteen-sixties, which had struck gold with the critics as well as the public, and a cult movie status awaited for Picard's relatively scanty project. This was thanks to the director's approach, which at best could be described as oblique, not getting into the niceties of explaining his scenario outright but preferring to hold off on any great revelations about what was actually happening. The effect of this could be either to intrigue the inquisitively minded about what mysteries were contained within that house, or to turn the audience off completely because it just made no sense.

However, there was enough relayed to the viewer to have the former be preferable to the latter, and in the two lead performances a definite character interplay that had some resonance. Not Adler and Basso - she was, frankly, hardly in this as the madwoman in the attic (or plot equivalent) - but Adler and Liam Aiken, the little boy from A Series of Unfortunate Events (Jim Carrey version) now grown up and essaying the role of Jean Paul's best pal. It was tempting to see The Bloodhound as more of an extended short than a feature, especially at just over an hour long, but considering its deliberate pace and gradual reveal, it actually felt longer than it was, and not necessarily in a bad way, either.

The focus was on the two old friends who try to rekindle the connection they had enjoyed back when they first knew one another, and how there will be problems when no matter how far they would prefer things could pick up where they left off, time passing has created a selection of hindrances to that state of affairs. For a start, Jean Paul has grown, shall we say, more eccentric over the years - practically the first thing he asks Aiken's Francis is to take off his shoes in the house, whereupon he inhales deeply of Francis's trainers' odour as a way of breaking the ice. It goes downhill from there, and the visitor is not of unblemished personality either as we see when he is on his own, perhaps a metaphor that you can never recreate the past when so much water has flowed under the metaphorical bridge. But this was still a horror movie, and the monster was madness, only modern psychological malaise rather than melodrama, a fear that was present across the world and chimed with anyone who appreciated what this was trying to do.

[Arrow Video are set to release The Bloodhound on Blu-ray in March 2021 and it's available now via the Arrow Video Channel.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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