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Love Lies Bleeding

Rose Glass made her debut in 2020 with the critically lauded Saint Maud. It’s a visually striking and psychologically tense horror movie. It landed Glass on the map and she was even included in Bong Joon-ho’s 20 directors to watch list for the BFI. Saint Maud’s success essentially gave her carte blanche on her sophomore effort, Love Lies Bleeding. In doing this, Rose Glass gifts us with one of the wildest pieces of filmmaking in recent memory. A pulpy thriller surrounding a queer romance with a healthy handful of stomach-churning viscera. Forget Saltburn, Love Lies Bleeding is true ‘cinema for sickos’.


Jackie (Katy O’Brian) dreams of heading to Las Vegas to pursue her dream of being a top bodybuilder. On her way she stops in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to make some money to help her. Lou (Kristen Stewart) works at the local gym where she bumps into Jackie. They immediately fall for each other and it sets them down a path of love and murder as Jackie unravels the truth about Lou’s family. 


Love Lies Bleeding sets itself up as a contemporary Thelma and Louise. The two share similar values and a similar framing. An overall sense of women vs the patriarchy boiled down to a singular murderous incident that embroils the protagonists in something ultimately bigger than the two of them combined. All leading to a ride or die climax. Love Lies Bleeding, however, treads its own ground in many ways. 

Mystery and intrigue seep their way into the narrative through Lou and her family. Lou’s father, Lou Sr. (Ed Harris) is a man with many secrets and she harbours these too. As we are shown who commits the murder that sends the story down its wild paths, it’s refreshing to still be in the dark about certain revelations as it progresses.  

Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding has no concern with committing to realism. Akin to Saint Maud we often see the world on screen how the characters perceive it. In this case through the eyes of Jackie. There are points where the bounds of reality are pushed against, as her muscles expand in real time with tension popping pulse. Whereas other times the bounds are completely smashed through, where her perception of a fairly normal bodily function is pushed to the ultimate extreme. All of these leave a general unease, where you aren’t quite sure what is around the corner. 

Lou and Jackie’s love for each other goes beyond subtext, as Love Lies Bleeding is unapologetically queer. Their romance is a whirlwind and develops as they become further intertwined the more entrenched they end up in Lou’s family history. Their love gives the film a contemporary feel despite its authentic 1980s setting. 

Although this isn’t explicitly aligned with the horror genre, Glass’s distinctive imagery carries over in some truly outrageous ways. Between pulsating muscles that look like they could pop at any moment, and being a front row seat witness to someone’s head being bashed in, they’re the kind of visuals that will seer themselves onto your brain forever. These blood-curdling moments succeed so much in making one uncomfortable due to the excellent sound design, and top quality visual effects - both practical and otherwise. 

Love Lies Bleeding

Kristen Stewart is having a great time as Lou, who is a very layered character. Her past and motivations throughout the film aren’t black and white but she’s still an alignable protagonist. You can tell that Stewart really believes in the character and she goes all in on it. Katy O’Brian is the star of the show though. We learn a lot less about Jackie’s background but her performance captures her past exquisitely. 

Love Lies Bleeding has a sharp turning point at its climax that the film will live or die on. It would be unfair to say it comes out of nowhere but it drives the crazy up to eleven and may see some people switch off. The moment, however, proves to be the ultimate power move solidifying Love Lies Bleeding as an audacious, impeccable contribution to cinema.


Rating Love Lies Bleeding



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