He’s a Bleeder is a lo-fi short film with some jumpy editing and, in the spirit of transparency, only a water pistol’s worth of blood. As its subject, it chooses two brothers who co-own a strip club. They have very distinct personalities, which complement each other like apple juice and gasoline. The setting is their depressing back office, which looks like every back office that’s ever had the misfortune to exist: pale walls, framed certificates and a desk with more pens than one man could possibly need.
When we meet the brothers, Bucky and Buddy (Joseff Stevenson and Philip Hersh), they’re in the throes of an argument. Before we can gather enough information to make sense of their problem, a knock on the door fills in the blanks. One of their dancers, Lucy (Jordan Howard), skittishly enters the room with a small guy in a big suit, Charlie (Russ Kingston). It turns out Charlie is the club’s manager and wasn’t managing to the best of his abilities. This situation is worked out rather amicably, but as Lucy and Charlie begin to leave, Bucky asks Charlie to stay. The situation with the dancer was only an excuse to get Charlie in the door. Charlie’s in trouble.
“…two brothers who co-own a strip club…distinct personalities complement each other like apple juice and gasoline.”
There’s enough in this simple premise for a short film to soak in, but He’s a Bleeder doesn’t have any weight to it. It feels like a fleeting moment, without anything to anchor you in a time and place not your own. There’s nothing notable about the dialogue, the characters or the transgression from which the story arises. Having re-watched the film a few times, I’m still having a problem pinpointing the reason for it being a film in the first place. What story is being told? I can’t say. The final line hints at some character development for Bucky, but his starting point is never made clear, so any progress made isn’t felt.
The syncopated editing is a stylistic choice, I assume, but it does nothing to accent the story nor is it pleasing on a superficial level. Instead, it’s just an experiment dropped into an otherwise unassuming film, which causes it to stick out like nachos at a tea party. If anything, the editing speaks to the film’s larger desire to be a snappy, dialogue-driven, violence-tinged anecdote, but its lack of a story prevents that. And by “story,” that doesn’t have to mean a series of plot points; it could just mean an idea or feeling that one person is trying to communicate to another.
From what I can tell, He’s a Bleeder doesn’t have anything to communicate. With a thin story and colorless characters, the film, in its eight minutes of runtime, never makes a compelling case for its existence. Even the worst of films often spring from a kernel of inspiration, but this one feels like an accident—like a tornado dropped a handful of actors into a room with an active camera and a script written on a series of napkins.
He’s a Bleeder (2011) Directed by Gil Ben-Harosh. Written by Desi Poteet. Starring Joseff Stevenson, Philip Hersh, Russ Kingston, Jordan Howard.
3 out of 10