Directed by: Austin Sheeley, Jason Denney
Cast: Austin Sheeley, Kirsten Moore, Christie Ledeker
Two serial killers meet, fall in love, and take their relationship to its murderous conclusion in the quirky film Another Bleeding Love Story, directed by Austin Sheeley.
When I think of the indie spirit, I imagine sleepless nights, odd hours, and commitment to creating a piece of work against insurmountable odds. Those that take on indie projects, especially indie film projects, are embarking on a labor of love. It’s a challenging, long, and often thankless undertaking. In another corner of my life, I was an actress in several indie horror films (trust me, you’ve never heard of them). I’ve been on the front lines of this process, and I have a soft spot in my heart for any group of people who are willing set aside their responsibilities and go make something.
I felt that soft spot throb a little watching Austin Sheeley’s Another Bleeding Love Story. Was it high budget? No. Was it without flaws? No. Could you tell they cared about their project? Yes. This goes a long way in my book.
The story begins with Lucas (a southern accented Austin Sheeley) cleaning blood off of a cigarette smoking Lily (in a dead monotone performance by Kirsten Moore). She’s been stabbed, but tells him that she’ll be fine. They’re joined by their friend Cricket (the subtle and sweet Christie Ledeker) who is shocked to find them both covered in blood. In an obvious moment of setup, Cricket asks them what happened. This leads us into the story of Lucas and Lily and how they found themselves in this fated position.
It turns out that Lily and Lucas are serial killers. They met on a common interest site for killers and set up a blind date. Lucas kills because a vision of Jesus (I believe played by a fake-bearded Sheeley) tells him to. He kills “evil” people, who happen to all be middle-aged white women. Lily kills for enjoyment, but she has a very specific pattern. She meets her victims through a suicide pact website. When her prey meets up with her for a joint suicide, she knocks them out, ties them up, and makes them tea laced with cyanide.
After a rocky first date that includes a nearly botched murder, they form a shaky romantic/murderous relationship. It’s not long before it becomes clear that Lucas’ feelings for Lily are stronger than the other way around. Lily is a sociopath, you see, and she is incapable of reciprocating the type of deep emotion Lucas needs from her. She has trust issues and would prefer to keep things casual.
They keep making a go of it, however, killing and fornicating their way through a whole slew of unwitting victims. But, as the old saying goes, “once incompatible, always incompatible,” and they find themselves butting heads again and again. It ends exactly the way you think it might, but then again, how could it end in anything but death?
This was a fun little flick. I dug the zany plot even though it lacked any sort of depth. Sheeley worked hard to place unique, goofy surprises throughout the film and some were really funny. When a potential suicide discovers that the lovers are too emotionally distraught to off her, she says she understands; they need to be alone. Then stabs herself in the neck with a kitchen knife. For most of this film I sat with my head cocked and my lips twisted to the side, but at that moment I laughed out loud.
The biggest problem is with the tone, something that is not helped by low-grade acting performances. Sheeley has tried to create a world where murder is regarded with casual indifference. The characters (spearheaded by Moore) are never shocked; they look bored, even when they are surprised. Imagine an entire movie of Gwyneth Paltrow’s character in The Royal Tenenbaums and you’re getting the right idea.
In fact, Wes Anderson is a good reference to point to where the movie doesn’t quite work. A moon-faced reaction to death is a fun and funny idea, but it only works when everyone is playing in the same tone. It’s as if these actors felt that playing it chill also meant not having opinions and emotions. Moore’s character is a sociopath, but even the slightest research into sociopathy tells you that they still feel emotions. They just don’t feel emotions for others. So when something goes wrong for her character, logically she should have feelings about it. But she doesn’t.
Still, the film is packed full of great ideas and imagery, even if the execution sometimes misses the mark. At one point the serial killer couple have sex in the same room as their tied up victim. Although the humor was not lost on me, I couldn’t help but think about the implicit horror the victim would be feeling knowing that the sounds of other people having sex would be the last thing they heard. It gave me a good shiver.
If there was anything missing from the film it would be more acknowledgement of the horror within the comedy. A scene can be played for laughs without compromising the horror of the situation. A good example are the ropes that held the victims to a chair. They’re loose, clean, and illogically placed. It took me out of the action every time. I understand being on a budget, but it costs nothing extra to dirty up those prop ropes and spend a little time on the internet learning how to properly tie something up.
Another Bleeding Love Story is fun, whacky, and a little off kilter. I’m interested to see what Sheeley does next.