Spoilers require some inspiration.
It’s amazing that I still have to catch up on films from the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival. It doesn’t matter how many I see, there’s always a few I regret missing. I don’t know if I could have taken this one on a big screen. The movie is raw, powerful, loud and takes no prisoners. Whatever grounding in reality vanishes rather quick but then it might just be the camera suffering the drug overdose as well, so we can never be sure.
Bliss (2019) is written and directed by Joe Begos. This movie is a bit of a tour-de-force of a movie portraying the drug-fueled experience with a tinge of the paranormal. Dezzy (Dora Madison) is an artist commissioned to finish a piece, delayed, out of cash and in need of a high. Threatened by her landlord and dumped by her agent, she goes in search of a fix from her friendly dealer Hadrian (Graham Skipper). Although warned that she might be biting off more than she can chew, she goes for a dangerous variety of the strong stuff and ends up knocked out.
As she comes to, a party has broken out at Hadrian’s place and Dezzy decides to forget it all as she encounters her friends Courtney (Tru Collins) and Ronnie (Rhys Wakefield) who seem to have even more drugs to share. After blacking out and fighting with boyfriend Clive (Jeremy Gardner), Dezzy decides going on a complete binger with Courtney and Ronnie to find out that she’s develop some blood-sucking tendencies. Unable to tell if she is just a dope fiend, a vampire or both, she finds herself infused with inspiration to continue her painting.
The movie is filmed in grainy film with dark hues of red permeating it all when not hidden in the smoky atmosphere of a grimy bar. This is not the alluring and elegant world of vampires, but the decayed and insane hallucination-filled gory orgy of blood filled with wild camera swings, fish-eye views and a death wish. It’s no longer a concern for Dezzy if she overdoses or not, it’s the fear or not being able to create again that makes her search for the stronger and stronger fixes. As the corpses start to pile up, the painting seems to take on more life while Dezzy begins a downward spiral hoping to gain that spark of brilliance before the darkness takes her.
The movie is a bit relentless in the roller coaster of a ride, seldom giving its audience a break. I found myself drawn into the story and the character of Dezzy. I didn’t really saw any cracks in her shell that would allow for her to break free of her self-destructive cycle. She’s meant to go down. You’re siding with her in her need to finish her masterpiece, but you’re also aware that she might not come out the other side. The movie never adopts the preaching tone of a cautionary tale.
Strongly recommended for fans of gory, grimy and unrelented horror played real loud. This is not a movie for the casual horror fan or the popcorn crowd. I’m not trying to belittle either, but this movie does come down to an assault of the senses. Our protagonist is hellbent on creating art regardless, or perhaps because of, the damnation that comes with it. Once her work is complete, she has accomplished her ultimate goal. Nothing else matters.
That will do for now.