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Joe Begos
Dora Madison, Tru Collins, Rhys Wakefield
Writing Credits:
Joe Begos

A brilliant painter facing the worst creative block of her life turns to anything she can to complete her masterpiece, spiraling into a hallucinatory hellscape of drugs, sex, and murder in the sleazy underbelly of Los Angeles.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English PCM 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 80 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 11/12/2019

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Joe Begos and Actor Dora Madison
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Joe Begos, Eitor/Producer/1st AD Josh Ethier and Special Makeup Effects Artists Josh and Sierra Russell
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailers & Previews


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Bliss [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 11, 2019)

A trippy take on horror, 2019’s Bliss takes us to Los Angeles. There we meet Dezzy (Dora Madison), a talented painter.

Despite her ample skills, Dezzy hits a roadblock. She finds herself devoid of creative inspiration, and this makes her desperate.

As such, Dezzy goes to extreme measures to reactivate her internal spark. Dezzy tries some powerful new drugs, and those impact her in a variety of ways that eventually include violence.

Sometimes my friends ask how I choose what to review for this site. A lot of my selections fall under the “must run” umbrella, as the site’s focus means various big-ticket movies become inevitable reviews.

With lesser-known films, though, it all falls under what catches my eye. I never heard of Bliss before its press e-mail hit my inbox, but the synopsis made it sound intriguing enough for me to request a review copy.

Bad call, Colin – bad call!

It takes about half the movie to get there, but Bliss does eventually embrace a formal horror tale. For the initial 40 minutes or so, however, it feels like we see little more than a non-stop montage of Dezzy as she drinks, drugs and screws.

Given that Madison looks good naked, some of these sequences come with appeal. However, most of the scenes feel like outtakes from a late-90s Prodigy video. They’re obnoxious and grating.

Once Dezzy’s path takes her down a violent route, the movie doesn’t change much. Sure, it gives us something with a little more bite – pun intended – but Bliss still tends to feel like a nearly random series of ugly, hyperactive visuals with little discernible purpose.

Actually, I take that back, as I think I get what the filmmakers wanted to do. They make the visuals and audio frantic and aggressive to represent Dezzy’s state of mind.

I guess they succeed, but the movie becomes so headache-inducing that it fails its most basic need to involve the viewer in a compelling manner. We get stuck with material that creates more annoyance than entertainment.

It doesn’t help that Bliss presents an ill-defined lead who actively alienates the viewer. Not that every movie needs a sympathetic protagonist, but Dezzy shows no true arc.

This means Dezzy seems abrasive at the start and she never changes. We don’t really understand her in any real way, and we fail to develop an interest in her story.

None of the actors do anything with their parts. As noted, Madison looks good, but she overdoes our lead, and the supporting performers don’t show any positive impact either.

More than anything, Bliss comes across as an 80-minute test reel, a sampler intended to get the filmmakers additional work. It doesn’t turn into a compelling story or an intriguing cinematic experience.

The Disc Grades: Picture C/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Bliss appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Shot on Super 16mm, Bliss suffered from the stock’s limitations.

Many of the concerns stemmed from iffy definition. Close-ups looked good, and most wider exteriors showed decent detail. However, these elements lacked great delineation and could veer toward the mushy side.

I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to manifest themselves. Small specks popped up at times. These never became heavy, but they persisted through the whole movie.

In terms of colors, Bliss often opted for garish reds, purples, blues and greens. These tended to look heavy and overdone.

Blacks were reasonably deep and dense, while shadows were acceptable; they could be a little murky, but that wasn’t a serious issue. Even given lowered expectations that related to Super16, this seemed like an iffy image.

Better results came from the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, as it used the spectrum in a largely involving manner. A hyperactive film got a hyperactive mix, music blasted from all the speakers in a bold manner, and effects sometimes followed suit.

As expected, the flick’s violent scenes used the soundscape best. These provided good involvement to the various set pieces, all of which bolstered the movie’s impact.

Audio quality worked fine, for the most part, though speech could seem a bit distant. Still, the lines remained intelligible. Music showed nice range and impact, as the various songs and score packed a good sense of dynamics.

Effects followed suit, so those components came across as brash and powerful, with solid low-end as necessary. This turned into a fairly satisfying soundtrack.

As we shift to extras, we find two separate audio commentaries. With the first, we hear from writer/director Joe Begos and actor Dora Madison, as both sit together for a running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, sets and locations, effects, editing, music and connected domains.

Every once in a while, Begos and Madison bring useful remarks. However, they mostly laugh, spout profanity and praise the production. Despite the occasional nugget of information, this mostly becomes an annoying, rambling track.

For the second commentary, we find writer/director Joe Begos, editor/producer/1st AD Josh Ethier, and special makeup effects artists Josh and Sierra Russell. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of story/characters, sets and locations, cast and performances, various effects, photography and music.

Ethier comes to the fore in this chat, and he feels more effective than Begos – by a little, at least. The track still devolves into general yammering and profanity too much of the time, but Ethier helps give the discussion a little purpose.

But just a little, as the commentary doesn’t do a whole lot to improve on its predecessor. While we get a few decent notes about the film, there’s not enough useful content to make this a worthwhile chat.

One Deleted Scene fills a total of one minute, 49 seconds. A secondary character deals with mayhem.

The scene feels superfluous and also an odd perspective, as virtually the entire film comes from Dezzy’s POV. The choice to focus elsewhere doesn’t work, so this beomes a good omission.

The disc opens with ads for Darlin’, White Chamber, Level 16 and Girl On the Third Floor. We also find the teaser and trailer for Bliss.

As far as horror films go, I’ve seen worse than Bliss, but that stands as a poor recommendation. The movie offers little to make it engaging and mostly just induces headaches via its aggressive stylistic choices. The Blu-ray comes with spotty visuals, generally good audio and supplements saddled with not very good commentaries. Bliss fails as a movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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