Close this search box.

Love Lies Bleeding Review: Intoxicating Thriller

Two characters look at each other, sitting on the floor, in the film Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding, Rose Glass’ gloriously bizarre follow up to Saint Maud, is a marvellous feat of muscular filmmaking.

Rose Glass has to be one of the most precise directors working today. Her 2019 horror film Saint Maud zipped from scene to scene with real tightness and no wastage; her second feature, Love Lies Bleeding, shares this incisiveness and swift energy. As soon as the blood red soaked production companies loom large on the screen at the start of the film, accompanied by Clint Mansell’s (Drive) ominous original score, Glass has us hooked, and thankfully, she never loosens her grip.

Love Lies Bleeding sees Glass shift into romance and thriller territory, although her latest still boasts finger-curling gore and amplified body horror. The setup is swift: Jackie (Katy O’Brian, The Mandalorian) is travelling to Las Vegas to enter a bodybuilding competition, stopping in New Mexico on the way. After a car park rendezvous with the violent JJ (Dave Franco, 21 Jump Street), Jackie gets a job working for arms dealer Lou Sr (Ed Harris, The Truman Show) and also meets his daughter, Lou (Kristen Stewart, Spencer). Jackie and Lou fall in love, and it is here where Glass and Weronika Tofilska’s screenplay shines. They craft this relationship quickly, but everything is completely believable, grounded in real emotional and physical attachment.

This isn’t some lovey dovey romance though. As the title of Love Lies Bleeding suggests, Jackie and Lou’s relationship ignites a rush of violence from all angles. It’s a volatile film, and Glass’ robust and assured filmmaking feeds directly into the bodies we see on screen: she lingers on swelling muscles, bulging veins, or sweaty extremities. As Jackie’s addiction to steroids worsens and her body swells, Love Lies Bleeding too takes on new and extreme levels. If Love Lies Bleeding is a film about bodies–their sensual allure and their devastating danger–it is also about contrasts. We witness the crashing lows and mighty highs of addiction alongside both the thrill and destruction of violence.

Film Trailer (A24)

For the most part, Love Lies Bleeding manages to balance these themes well, whilst there are no jarring whiplash moments when the film suddenly shifts from sweet romance to bloody violence. There is a bizarreness to proceedings that works–just about, the film tiptoeing the line with glee. Ben Fordesman’s ravishing cinematography contributes to this glorious atmosphere, the desert world of New Mexico kissed with neon hues and sci-fi surrealism. There are even hints of Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) to Love Lies Bleeding, and not only because of Mansell’s pulsating and thrilling score.

The screenplay of Love Lies Bleeding is not perfect though. It is less tightly constructed than Saint Maud’s; more characters means a little less refinement, although everything is always so fluid. In addition, Jackie’s backstory feels undercooked, and there are moments that feel hamfisted in attempting to service this. The conclusion feels rushed, with pieces previously laid out with care overridden by the film’s inevitable and inherent madness, but it’s difficult to be mad at these shortcomings when the ride is so thrilling.

Pulpy gore and body horror that would make David Cronenberg (Crash) proud along with splendid chemistry between O’Brian and Stewart ensure there is always something to engage with in Love Lies Bleeding. Meanwhile, Harris delivers a sublime performance as a horrid, evil slimeball. Based on Love Lies Bleeding, whatever genre Glass dips into next, she is sure to bring the same unhinged surrealism and slick delivery that we are growing so accustomed to from her.

Love Lies Bleeding premiered at the 2024 Sundance and Berlin Film Festival and will be released in select US theaters on March 8, 2024 and nationwide on March 15. Read our Berlin Film Festival reviews and our list of 20 films to watch at the Berlin Film Festival!

Top 10 Best Movies of 2024 So Far – Loud And Clear Reviews
We count down the Top 10 best movies of 2024 so far, showing that there are so many good choices at the movies this year.
Thank you for reading us! If you’d like to help us continue to bring you our coverage of films and TV and keep the site completely free for everyone, please consider a donation.