Bliss of Evil
Dir. Josh Morris (2022)
A sound engineer finds herself in deep trouble when she and her girlfriend’s punk band are trapped in a recording studio by a vicious killer.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
It’s an obvious understatement to say that trauma can be difficult to cope with, and PTSD has the particularly nefarious ability to bring about panic attacks when anything even remotely reminds you of your previously-experienced traumatic event. For Isla (Sharnee Tones), a sound engineer for her girlfriend Nic’s (Shanay De Marco) punk band, and she has recently experienced a traumatic event that has left her with lasting effects. She accompanies the band to a recording studio to record their album, and when one of their friends turns up dead, paranoia and mistrust plague the group. There’s a killer on the loose, and things are about to get a whole lot worse in this queer-themed slasher from Australia.
Arguably the best thing about Bliss of Evil is that it succeeds where so many other shoestring-budgeted indie horrors fail. The sound effects are on-point, each thud of a murder weapon sounding realistic and synced perfectly with the visuals. The acting is excellent, with each character believably played and each line of dialogue delivered in a realistic and consistent manner. The camerawork is exceptional, intentionally jarring at times to throw the audience off kilter and showcasing some truly excellent shots. Finally, the budgetary concerns that would usually result in subpar violence and gore is really well-hidden, with camera tricks or cutaways preventing the necessity of spending more money than could have been allocated. It’s a well-made, well-written film, and while a lot of these “successes” seem like they should be par for the course, any purveyor of indie horror can assure you that they are unfortunately exceedingly rare.
That’s not to say that all parts are raving successes. The killer, who carries the moniker “Bloodface,” is particularly unimpressive. He’s basically just a dude with “blood” all over his face, which doesn’t hide any of his features or make him look scary in the slightest. Corrie Hinschen, who plays Bloodface, doesn’t do so in a menacing or unhinged way that could have perhaps upped the fear factor of the killer, and instead plays him straightforward in an almost Michael Myers-esque sort of inhuman way. That is, of course, when he’s not having a mental breakdown and crying or punching himself in the face. The score, which consists mainly of a discordant, single-tone vibration, is sufficiently creepy, but often becomes monotonous due to the overreliance on that one option. Finally, the film does tend to be paced a bit weird towards the end, with some jumps backwards in time that perhaps would have been more effective if told in a linear fashion.
All that being said, it’s not a bad film at all. Thematically, it’s intriguing, a horror-based discussion on toxic masculinity, sexual assault, and the trauma associated with both. The bones of the film are good, and the story, if laid out a tad different, is quite compelling. Of course, as a gorehound, I wish there had been a good bit more blood and guts, but I can’t fault a film for simply not having the money, and the film does achieve the necessary creep factor when its able. All in all, it’s a worthwhile effort that shows fantastic promise, and I think that, if the film continues to receive the attention that its starting to garner, we could see a lot more from these filmmakers in the future.
Who this movie is for: Indie horror lovers, Slasher fans, Punk rockers
Bottom line: There is a lot to love in this tiny-budgeted indie slasher, and the cast and crew are pretty talented. The film is currently running through the festival circuit, racking up awards as fast as its body count. It’s watchable and entertaining, it’s well-written and contains some excellent performances, and its far better than the vast majority of indie horror films, especially those of the slasher persuasion. It may not measure up to a lot of the bigger budget major studio offerings, but pound-for-pound it’s tough to beat, having been made for only $15,000 (or whatever that is in Australia money.) I can list the changes that would have made it a better film on one hand, and that’s quite an accomplishment for such a small-budget indie film. Definitely recommend checking this one out if it comes to a festival near you. It’s been picked up by Bayview Entertainment, the same people who brought you the indie sensation Skinamarink, so hopefully it’ll be readily available soon.