Love Lies Bleeding review: A brutal, horny midnight movie

Love Lies Bleeding, the jaw-unhinging sophomore characteristic from Rose Glass, is a gleefully gonzo midnight movie, however its vibes maintain extra weight than the story.

“Don’t ever fall in love, it actually hurts,” one character says, echoing the through-line of Glass’ excellent two-feature filmography: toxic pleasure. Saint Maud blurred the road between divine ecstasy and ache, culminating in one of the crucial harrowing last frames of the twenty first century – and the unquestionable arrival of a daring new voice in horror.

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It was the type of movie you’d uncover on a quiet weeknight screening, a hush-hush word-of-mouth chiller that left phantom nails in your toes as you stumbled into the discomfort of evening. Her second movie is extra of a hoot; raucous and bloody, lurid and fast-paced, much less involved with religion however simply as invested within the toxicity (and blind eyes) of obsession. It’s an inversion of Corinthians: right here, love isn’t affected person, type, or infallible.

As thematically potent as that’s, in contrast to its predecessor, Love Lies Bleeding lacks broader originality and focus because it barrels in the direction of its admittedly wacko conclusion. But doesn’t want genre-reshaping reverence: this can be a helluva good time by itself deserves, of which there are loads.

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Love Lies Bleeding is caught between heaven and hell

After the damp, coastal doom of Scarborough, the movie’s chaos unfolds primarily in a small, dusty New Mexico city. It’s a type of purgatory, caught between the blanket of a starfield and a crimson-soaked, death-ridden abyss we see in fixed sparkles; it’s the final word ’80s center America, a melting pot of white picket fence {couples} whose solely social outing is a firing vary, needle-dotted addicts, and buff gym-goers.

Lou (Kristen Stewart) works at Carter’s, a haven of endurance and self-importance; Ben Fordesman’s terrific cinematography, vivid and textured, hones in on sweat dangling on nipple hairs, pumping veins on curled arms, and puffed-out, drenched normies who clearly didn’t see the “solely losers give up” signal. But she isn’t pumping iron: she’s elbow-deep in energy-drink-fueled sh*t because of a perpetually clogged rest room.

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It all modifications with the arrival of Jackie (Katy O’Brian), a hench drifter and Oklahoma runaway (her previous and causes for leaving are left ominously unclear) with goals of profitable a nationwide bodybuilding contest in Las Vegas. She sleeps her means right into a job as a waitress at a gun vary, owned by Lou Sr. (Ed Harris, unashamedly styled like an icy Riff Raff), Lou’s maniacal father and native crime lord, earlier than stopping by the fitness center – and her glistening biceps shortly catch Lou’s eye (in addition to the opposite patrons, whose undesirable consideration is shortly swatted).

A steroid jag within the arse sparks a heady love affair that’s unapologetically, toe-suckingly horny. Sorry prudes, however the intercourse scenes expertly talk the knotty, super-charged dynamic of their relationship; it’s a motivator, a reward, and a crutch in any battle. Soon, Lou is separating yolks from whites and residing in home concord – however an enormous complication involving her sister (Jena Malone, in a commanding and maddening flip) and her sleazebag husband (Dave Franco, on beautifully slimy kind) turns their dream right into a neverending nightmare.

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Superb performances maintain the wheel regular

Katy O'Brian and Kristen Stewart in Love Lies BleedingA24

Both leads ship fabulous performances. O’Brian’s physicality isn’t her best asset: it’s how she makes use of it, one way or the other modest and imposing. The chemistry with Stewart is instant, however she’s outmatched by her co-star, a bag of contradictions that’s by no means lower than plausible; an loafer who’s extremely resourceful, a loner who craves sexual consideration, an enabled enabler. The latter is essential in her on-off relationship with Daisy, her meth-chopped, smitten ‘buddy’ (scene-stealingly portrayed by Anna Baryshnikov, bringing a wide-eyed, off-kilter verve extra akin to the characters in Red Rocket).

Sean Baker isn’t the one recognizable voice within the movie; there’s a recent momentum (and try at suspense, albeit it doesn’t fairly land) akin to the Safdie Brothers, ladies (lesbian or in any other case) will at all times recall Thelma and Louise, and the griminess of its bodybuilding showcase recalled Michael Bay’s underrated Pain & Gain. But it’s the air of the surreal that makes Glass a singular voice; the pulsating physique horror, sojourns into ‘roided-up delusions, plus Clint Mansell’s digital, twinkling rating. She is a grasp of temper and environment.

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However, whereas Saint Maud brilliantly, devastatingly mounted towards its (un)avoidable last scene, Love Lies Bleeding – to borrow some weightlifting parlance – loses its kind within the final stretch, struggling to keep up the speed and dramatic integrity of its colliding threads. That’s to not say there aren’t shocks – two moments earned a pointy refrain of gasps in my screening – however the vacation spot, whereas commendably swung, is already the lesser-remembered a part of a rollicking movie.

Love Lies Bleeding evaluate rating: 4/5

Love Lies Bleeding isn’t pretty much as good as Saint Maud, nevertheless it’s important neo-pulp fiction: uncompromised, wild, and one other thrilling work from an rising grasp.

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Love Lies Bleeding hits cinemas on March 8. In the meantime, you’ll be able to take a look at our record of 12 horror films to get enthusiastic about in 2024.

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