Shudder’s 2019 film Bliss follows artist Dezz as she suffers a creative block and hasn’t done a painting in three months. As a result, she turns to a powerful new drug called Diablo, which increases her ability to create but ends up turning her insane.
This movie certainly gets an A for originality. The concept is really cool. It’s the kind of movie where you’d figure that the concept would’ve been done before but it really hasn’t. It’s similar to 2018’s Searching in that it provides a unique narrative, though, unfortunately, also being similar to Searching in that it has some structural flaws. While it’s a cool movie that explores a variety of different themes, including substance abuse and artistic aggression, it’s not award winning because of a few factors.
There are plenty of positive factors about the narrative besides the concept. Firstly, there’s the cinematography. There are a lot of really cool camera angles, especially towards the end, that you don’t often see in film. There are certain shots where the camera does a close up on Dezz and follows her movements, which really help to add terror to certain horror sequences. And, the lighting is really good, with deep pink and red colors, adding to the suspense in some scenes and the pure horror of others.
Bliss does a really good job of having the feel of Los Angeles in the 1970s. Even though the movie takes place in 2019, the 1970s vibe is still very much present. The music, especially, helps: with the guitar riffs matching the rock music from the time. While the film isn’t based in the 1970s, the feel is a welcome one, and helps make the movie more interesting to look at, if nothing else.
Furthermore, the movie has some genuinely scary moments. Bliss has a lot of gory horror. If you like a nice serving of blood in your horror movie, Bliss has got you covered. And there isn’t just a lot of blood; the blood comes from terrifying places. The movie’s creators knew which body parts people wouldn’t want blood to be coming out of, and they made blood come out of those places. Unfortunately, there are certain parts to these scenes that don’t make them scary. While there’s a healthy dose of gore in this movie, there’s an unhealthy dose of screaming. There’s a large amount of it–and none of it is scary. Dora Madison isn’t talented enough to be able to pull off a satisfying scream. Sure, her scream is fine, just like the rest of her performance, but it isn’t blood curdling.
The acting in this movie is unsatisfying overall. It isn’t that it’s bad, because it isn’t, but it certainly isn’t good. The characters have emotion and expressions, they just could’ve had a little more of both. The acting’s just okay. If the writing were any better, it might have good acting. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t. The writing is similar to the acting in that it isn’t bad but it isn’t good. There were no lines in particular that really stood out to me, for better or for worse. There are no horrific lines nor any fantastic ones. There are only good lines, mediocre lines, and some bad lines.
Unfortunately, the main character, Dezz, is intensely unlikable. She’s incredibly poor yet spends all of her money on drugs, and is generally mean. The audience doesn’t have a moment of feeling bad for her when everything goes downhill. Yeah, she’s at a very low point in her life, but she’s never shown as having a high point, and so the audience is just left to believe that she’s just consistently spiraling out of control and the events in the movie are just the result of it; she doesn’t really have a character arc.
This next part is a spoiler so if you don’t like spoilers skip to the next paragraph. While this doesn’t completely ruin the movie for me, the evil force that haunts Dezz and forces her to go insane never gets fully explained. Sure, there are hints towards what’s going on, but never a full analysis. It’s similar to the 2018 movie Cam in that way, which is a very polarizing movie for that reason. Because the villain never gets explained, for some, the audience is left confused. Again, this doesn’t ruin the movie for me as I don’t mind a movie leaving some details up to interpretation, but to some this is bothersome, and if that’s you, this is not your movie.
Bliss has a cool concept and some cool cinematography, but the acting and writing isn’t stellar.
Bliss: Original Concept, Bad Execution
- Writing - 6.5/106.5/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Acting - 7/107/10
- Music - 9/109/10
- Production - 9.5/109.5/10
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