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Love Lies Bleeding – BFI Flare (Film Review)

2 min read

Love stories can appear in any genre and love, coupled with revenge, makes for one passionate bloodbath. Following 2019's religious horror Saint Maud, director has had audiences geared up for a hot, sexually charged dose of bloody chaos. The director (and co-writer) delivers on that promise, building on the enthusiasm garnered from the film's trailer and posters.

When small-town gym manager Lou () meets bodybuilder drifter Jackie (Katy O'Brian), their eyes meet across a sweat and grime-filled gym. From that first spark (they share cigarettes) the match is lit. But after one violent incident threatens to tear them apart, they are set on a path of chaotic revenge, each doing anything they can to protect the other.

There are strands within the film; a daughter's revenge, a heartfelt love story and a journey of self-discovery. Lou hates her criminal father (Ed Harris), even though at one time she was his loyal sidekick. Jackie is a lost soul, running away from a violent past and wanting to make something of herself. In between the chaos, these are the moments of heightened emotion that make Love Lies Bleeding an exhilarating watch. Whether it's the cracking pulsing veins on Jackie's body or the smoky red haze of memories Lou is trying to put behind her, the film's visceral imagery lingers — as does Dave Franco's creepy moustache.

Love Lies Bleeding is near perfect, yet we only get a glimpse into the real family business Lou wanted out of, which could have been explored more deeply. We also never really find out about Jackie's past; left as an unsolved mystery with just one ambiguous phone call to hold on to. But these are minor qualms in what is otherwise a thrilling ride.

The chaotic passion that drives the film is interspersed with comedic snippets throughout, giving the characters a dark edge that blends well with the sweat, blood and pain. Kristen Stewart and Katy O'Brian are electric together, but each holds their own in the more emotionally charged sequences. O'Brian in particular is given space to breathe, showing off more than just those rippling muscles. Glass seems adept at making her characters both repulsive and desirable at the same time. Mixing in body horror with hard-hitting violence and a sexually charged passionate love story, every minute counts.

Love Lies Bleeding screened at BFI Flare and will be in cinemas 3rd May in the UK