I would call Bleeding Rose a supernatural whodunit, except if you look at the DVD cover, it doesn’t exactly take CSI to guess whodunit. Hint: the guy with the pentagram carved into his forehead is not to be trusted. The guy in question is Alex (Nicholas Vitulli), the abusive, Satan-worshiping ex-boyfriend of our heroine, Ebony (Sakeena Nicole). She’s left him in Atlanta and recently moved back to Brooklyn to start anew. There she runs into the closest thing we have to a hero here, Cedric (Archie Ekong), a struggling music marketing-type guy…meaning he stands on street corners and propositions young ladies by saying he’s looking for talented vocalists, “also known as singers” (thanks for the industry insight, Clive Davis).
Turns out Cedric’s boy Kyle (Duane Littles) is a producer/songwriter who’s putting together an album that’s gonna be the next big thing. (Of course, hearing his pre-programmed Casio keyboard beats and Ebony’s wounded goose of a voice makes you wonder about his judgment, but let’s just chalk this up to poetic license.) Cedric and Ebony’s business relationship soon turns personal when they start “kicking it,” as the kids say. Ever the gentleman, he chides her for dating a white man when the subject of her ex arises. She takes his condescension well, but he senses a sadness inside when she refuses to reveal details of her breakup: “Why won’t you let me in?” he asks. Double entendre, anyone? Later, he tells Kyle his suspicion that Alex abused her, with typical class:
“Sisters always talkin’ about how we don’t show them any respect, don’t treat ’em right and all that yippity yap yap. Then they go run off with some white dude, come to find out it’s the same or worse. Don’t let me find out; I’ll kill his cracker ass.”
Did I mention that after Ebony rebuffs his advances because she’s too sad so shag, Cedric runs over to bone his ex-girlfriend, Dee? Kyle is the voice of reason: “It’s all stereotypes, man,” he tells Ced. “White, black, whatever; there’s good and bad in all of us.” Aren’t those lyrics to “Ebony and Ivory”?
Meanwhile, just as Ebony starts having violent visions of Alex, a shadowy figure kills her best friend Candice. When police question Ebony, though, the dumb bunny somehow forgets to mention her Satanic ex. But enough about murders; let’s talk more about interracial dating! Ebony’s father (veteran actor Willie C. Carpenter, way below his head here) echoes Cedric’s racial hang-ups. When Ebony explains that everything was initially “special” with Alex, he replies:
“I don’t see anything special about a man who lays his hands on a woman, especially when that woman is my daughter and that man is a cracker!”
I haven’t heard this much obsession with crackers since the Great Nabisco Shortage of ’79. Dee soon turns up dead, ditto Ebony’s dad and Kyle too. Who could the killer be???
Throughout the whole ordeal, Cedric remains a grade-A lout, always suspicious of Kyle’s feelings for Ebony (When she finds Kyle injured and bloody, he get jealous when she dabs his wounds!) and repeatedly making passes at her. Even with her father and best friend dead, he thinks only of himself, angry that she pushes him away. “Why,” he pouts, “Cuz I’m not white?!?” To writer/director Kareem Bland’s credit, he casts enough doubt and throws in a “twist” to make the mystery seem not quite as obvious as it really is, but the true mystery is why Cedric is allowed to live.