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  Bliss The Bloodsucking Art World
Year: 2019
Director: Joe Begos
Stars: Dora Madison, Tru Collins, Rhys Wakefield, Jeremy Gardner, Graham Skipper, Chris McKenna, Rachel Avery, Mark Beltzman, George Wendt, Abraham Benrubi, Jesse Merlin, Matt Mercer, Josh Ethier, Jackson Birnbaum, Susan Slaughter, Erin Braswell, Zoe Cooper
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Dezzy (Dora Madison) is an artist who works with paint on canvas, but despite some early success is struggling to follow up her last art gallery show, her latest work a huge but almost featureless impression of something-or-other in red, orange and yellow. It needs a lot more focus to make it interesting, but she is having more trouble applying herself than the oils and is increasingly seeking a drug intake as a path into the creativity that is abandoning her. Not that this helps too much either, and the way she treats others around her, both professionals and friends, is growing more isolating, though when they can supply her with narcotics she is a lot happier. But a new drug proves deadly...

Only not to Dezzy, more to those around her, for Bliss was a vampire movie by stealth, strongly hinting that the antiheroine has been subjected to bloodsucking as a kind of obsession-spawning virus after a threesome turns hallucinatory under the effect of a new type of cocaine, though just as valid, what could have happened was that she was turned by acquaintance Courtney (Tru Collins) into a creature of the night: what a racket she makes. Madison went all out to render her character monstrous even before we see her undergo her transformation from merely bad tempered to actively murderous, in the sort of performance that often gets called "brave" by commentators.

And gets called "naked a lot" by less precious observers, but she did spend much of those naked scenes coated in stage blood and gore, as if her newfound connection to the red stuff has brought her to a kind of performance art that is purely for her own benefit. The self-indulgence of the artist in general has been a fruitful journey for many a movie, be that biopic, comedy or as in this case, horror, except artists in horrors tend to be sent around the bend by their talent or lack of it, the pursuit of self-expression driving them on to fresh depths of depravity, be that painting in blood or using actual bodies in their work: Dezzy might as well be making sculptures with corpses inside.

It was that kind of movie. But while the gore was plentiful, and by the screeching finale was colouring the frame in various hues of crimson, the violence appeared to stem from a general air of aggression in every area of the modern world. This was an experience where every interaction, no matter how polite, can suddenly become a shouting match, or even a physical attack: a fan who has the temerity to approach Dezzy for a spot of "love your work" flattery gets told by her to "Fuck off" and is sent away with his tail between his legs, in a symptom of what is very wrong with this world when a compliment just refuses to take and it is easier to bite the chap's head off instead. Not literally - but Dezzy does indeed bite someone's head off for real later on, as if her temper has consumed her.

Quite often, rather than being frightening Bliss was bemusing, like going to a zoo and finding not the animals placidly feeding, but raging around attacking one another. And there are characters here who would be better off behind bars, director Joe Begos portraying them in a woozy manner that suggests getting stoned to watch this one would be a total waste of your stash, since he had done all that work for you. Adding to the bemusement was the closest thing this had to a celebrity showing up when George Wendt appeared long enough to get his forearm torn open during one of Dezzy's tantrums and dies from the blood loss as she gulps from the wound, about as far away from sitcom Cheers as you could imagine, despite drinking of a sort being involved. After a while this dedication to intensity, f-bombs lacing the dialogue every five nanoseconds to demonstrate how edgy it was, was numbing rather than shocking, but credit to the team here, they truly committed to their ideas and execution. Music by Steve Moore.

[Eureka release this on Blu-ray with the following features:

Limited Edition O Card slipcase with silver laminate finish
Limited Edition Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas; and an interview with writer/director Joe Begos
1080p presentation of the film on Blu-ray
5.1 DTS-HD MA and uncompressed LPCM 2.0 audio options
Optional English subtitles
Brand new audio commentary with film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan (Daughters of Darkness podcast)
Audio commentary with director Joe Begos and actress Dora Madison
Audio Commentary by director Joe Begos, producer Josh Ethier, and the Russell FX team
Trailer.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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