Film Review: Love Lies Bleeding – 7/10

‘It’s the ones you love the most who always disappoint you in the end…’

English director Rose Glass burst on to the scene with her instant horror classic Saint Maude in 2019 and that film immediately marked her out as a distinctive voice on the horror scene. With her new film Love Lies Bleeding, Glass has pivoted away from horror slightly to create something strange, intoxicating and utterly unique. While not all of it works, that is the natural consequence of taking risks. If you swing for the fences sometimes you will miss and miss big.

Lou (Kristen Stewart) reluctantly spends her days as the manager of a run-down gym owned by her father Lou Sr. (Ed Harris – sporting a preposterous hairpiece). Lou is immediately enraptured by Jackie (Katy O’Brian) – an aspiring bodybuilder and drifter who shows up at the gym one day out of the blue. Elsewhere, Lou worries about the abusive relationship that her sister Beth (Jena Malone) is enduring with her husband JJ (Dave Franco).

Love Lies Bleeding presents us with a fucked up family and then asks what would happen if a volatile outside presence (Jackie, in this case) was introduced out of the blue. O’Brian makes for a compelling and physically imposing interloper; it is fascinating to watch each family member become enamoured with her in their own way. This conflict accounts for the first half of the movie, all of which is excellent, before the second half takes on a more psychedelic, hallucinatory bent. While the numerous trippy moments in Saint Maude clashed beautifully with the mundane seaside town setting, they are jarring here, in a way that doesn’t always work. The film’s conclusion edges into the fantasy genre and while it’s visually captivating, it’s also slightly baffling.

Love Lies Bleeding is brave, singular filmmaking and while not everything is effective, I’m glad that it exists.