Bliss is a little indie horror film that did the festival rounds last year, including the premiere UK genre festival, Frightfest. It’s directed by Joe Begos, who has been making low-budget horror movies for the better part of the last decade. This film most certainly wears it influences on its sleeve: Gaspar Noé and Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction and even the more recent French film Raw.
Dora Madison plays Dezzy, a young hipster artist in L.A. who is having a serious creative block. She decides on a massive drug bender as the solution. She gets some drug that is allegedly DMT mixed with cocaine—sounds like quite the cocktail. Quickly she starts having hallucinations, as you would expect, and also gains a taste for blood and psychedelic threesomes.
There is not much of a “plot” beyond that, it also has certain music video quality, but it’s super in a wonderfully gritty and grainy super-16, which for my money looks better than modern 35mm in the digital vs. film wars. The final twist is something you’ve seen a million times before, but it’s a fun ride and just about manages to not outstay its welcome at a brisk 80 minute running.
The visual palette is awash in neon pinks and purples, not unlike Mandy, but Begos doesn’t have the artistic control of Panos Cosmatos. It has a certain scrappy punk energy, which is rare in independent horror and is a breath of fresh air, although it’s no masterpiece. Madison is good—I don’t recognize her, but she had a bit part in Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! She is also appearing in Begos’ next film, VFW.
The disc has a bunch of commentaries including one from the film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan, and two from Begos including one with Madison and another with crew members. The trailer and deleted scenes round off the disc, and if you can find it the slipcase version, that includes a booklet with new writing on the film by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and an interview with writer/director Joe Begos.