After six years in a mental institution, young murderer Oliver Lorenz is deemed safe to reenter society. In many ways living in the shadow of his father — an eminent doctor specializing in frontal lobotomies — Oliver is an extremely gifted young man yet painfully and uncontrollably crushed by his condition, which impedes any normal social interaction. Keeping his psychopathic and schizophrenic urges at bay, Oliver seems to be doing fine. There’s the occasional hiccup, but nothing that can’t be controlled with copious amounts of medication and a little bit of counseling. Soon enough, Oliver is assigned a job as a janitor at an abortion clinic. Fate intervenes, unplanned and unaccounted for, to complicate things further: Oliver, busy enough with the disintegration of his life, quite simply falls… in love. With Claire, a young nurse he meets at the clinic. This complicated surge of feelings sends Oliver into a tailspin of self-doubt and a subsequent date quickly turns into a kidnapping — seemingly against both kidnapper’s and victim’s will. Because what Oliver doesn’t quite realize yet is that the voices in his head are relentlessly driving him toward a specific goal, one with its share of consequences and copious bloodshed, one perhaps directly linked to his familial past and his desire to be rid of his condition.
If last year’s ABSENTIA was the stunning indie-chiller-that-could (and did!), this year HEMORRHAGE, from first-time Alberta writer-director Braden Croft, is, along similar lines, a revitalizing low-budget success. It’s a serial killer thriller fusing a twisty road movie structure to an unsettling descent — or rather freefall — into the troubled, mind of a murderer coming to term with the most basic and humane feelings of love, attraction… and survival. As the film progresses, the power relationships between Oliver (Alex D. Mackie) and Laura (Brittney Grabill) ebb and flow, perfectly in tune with the many twists and turns Croft has in store for us with this tour-de-force. Mackie reveals himself to be a simply mesmerizing on-screen presence, walking the thin rope between sympathy and utter insanity, ready to break at any moment yet troublingly relatable in his struggle for control and normalcy. Shot on a Canon7D for a shoestring budget, you need not look further because this is the Canadian indie thriller that should get you worked up and excited about this country’s filmmaking future.
— Ariel Esteban Cayer