Film Review: ‘Soaked in Bleach’

soaked-in-bleach
Courtesy of VIM Worldwide

A pile of evidence and theories is assembled to question whether Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's 1994 death really was a suicide.

“Soaked in Bleach” gathers together the pile of anecdotal and harder evidence that has long made some fans (or “fanatics,” as they’re once termed here) suspect that Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s 1994 death was no suicide, but a murder plot cooked up by spouse Courtney Love. The inclination to dismiss this as fanciful conspiracy theorizing is here countered by the testimonies of various experts, certain that the Seattle police really bungled their investigation, and by the recollections (as well as audio tapes) of the private eye whom Love herself hired when it appeared that Cobain had just gone missing. Where the artful, exhaustive, family-authorized docu “Montage of Heck” celebrates its subject’s entire life (and music), this procedural mix of talking heads and dramatizations will have a more limited appeal, and is most likely to reach its audience via home formats. It opened at the Arena Cinema Hollywood on June 12.

When Cobain went AWOL from a Los Angeles rehab center, Love hired former L.A. County Sheriff’s Detective turned private investigator Tom Grant to track his whereabouts. But her own contradictory statements and constantly shifting agenda struck him as so suspicious he immediately began recording all their conversations, heard here both in original form and as dialogue between actors. (Veteran character actor Daniel Roebuck plays Grant, while Sarah Scott delivers a full-on rocker-gorgon version of Love.) Eventually Grant went up to Seattle, but the intel Love and various associates gave him produced more inconsistencies — yet no Cobain, who in fact was already lying dead in a sort of attic above the garage that Grant hadn’t been told about.

He’d evidently shot himself to death after injecting himself with three times the lethal dosage of heroin. Many later wondered whether that was even possible (wouldn’t he have instantly passed out from the drug?), but police pronounced it a suicide with questionable haste, allowing various evidence to be destroyed or unexamined. (Inexplicably, photos of the death scene weren’t developed for 20 years.) Strangely, Love retained Grant to figure out Cobain’s activities during the missing days — even after he began pointing out the myriad gaps and conflicts in her own statements. But the police weren’t interested in his theories, and the media had already pronounced Cobain a tragic case of self-destruction.

Homicide, forensic and other experts are tapped to raise their own doubts about the “official version” of Cobain’s demise, including the question of whether his alleged suicide note was forged. Many think the case should be reopened, though the Seattle police so far have not shared that opinion. The hypothetical is that Love somehow arranged Cobain’s murder to look like a suicide, because the couple were rumored to be on the brink of divorce and their prenup agreement would have left her with little of his fortune. Several of Cobain’s intimates do insist that despite his drug and health problems, he wasn’t suicidal — though Love repeatedly called him so publicly well before his death.

This heavy buildup of investigative intel may be TMI for those not already obsessed with all things Cobain. The dramatic sequences have a straightforward telepic-mystery feel, though undeniably enliven by Scott’s blowsy impersonation of the worst detective’s client imaginable. (Tyler Bryan appears fairly briefly toward the end in a speculative re-enactment of Cobain’s last days.) There are relatively fleeting uses of Nirvana photos, performance and interview clips. Since the music rights obviously wouldn’t be forthcoming for a project of this nature, Peter G. Adams contributes an original score that’s more or less grunge-y.

Producer turned first-time feature helmer Benjamin Statler’s assembly is pro if uninspired, with the exception of a short animation sequence to illustrate the credulity-stretching logistics of how Cobain’s corpse was found gripping the shotgun that purportedly killed him. One rationale mentioned here for reopening the case is that if Cobain did not indeed commit suicide, that makes all the more needless the copycat deaths of at least 68 troubled youths around the world, who specifically referenced their hero’s self-offing in their own suicide notes.

Film Review: 'Soaked in Bleach'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, June 13, 2015. Running time: 89 MIN.

Production

(Documentary) A Valiant and Daredevil Films production. Produced by Benjamin Statler, Richard Middleton, Donnie Eichar.

Crew

Directed by Benjamin Statler. Written by Statler, Donnie Eichar, Richard Middleton. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Ben Kutchins; editors, Javier Alvarez, David Moritz; music, Peter G. Adams; production designer, Jessica Kender; costume designer, Bonnie Stauch; art director, Brian Grego; set decorator, David Koneff; sound (Dolby), Tim Hays; re-recording mixer, Joe Barnett; supervising sound editor, Steven Ticknor; visual effects and animation, David Ligenfelser; assistant director, Jonathan Southard; casting, Heidi Levitt, Michael Sanford.

With

Tom Grant, Max Wallace, Mitch Holmquist, Ben Berg, Aaron Bruckhard, Ryan Aigner, John Fisk, Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, Norm Stamper, Vernon J. Gerberth, Daniel Roebuck, Sarah Scott, Christian J. Meoli,  August Emerson, Kale Clauson, Julie Lancaster, Tyler Bryan.

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  1. alexander sampson says:

    I’m pretty sure I have the basic framework of what happened to Kurt solved. In a case like this, we must always ask “who had the most to lose” and go where that answer takes us. It seems likely to me that the order to kill Kurt probably came from David Geffen or someone else in a very high position and with a strongly vested interest. Geffen seems the most likely, as he has/had the means and connections to make it happen while also having the most to lose. Kurt was quitting the music business and Geffen’s most profitable act would be gone, and DGC had a lot invested in Kurt/Nirvana. Geffen and DGC stood to lose millions if Kurt retired and Nirvana broke up. We all know that nothing is more profitable than a dead rock star. A dead Kurt would sell a gazillion records (and he ultimately has), while a retired Kurt would sell zilch. Geffen likely worked closely with Courtney, who co-ordinated the operation on the ground. Courtney was in the same boat as Geffen, as Kurt was about to divorce her and she stood to lose millions. She gets everything if Kurt dies and nothing if he divorces her. So getting Courtney on board wouldn’t be difficult. And Courtney then hired either Dylan or Cali to do the actual deed. Organized crime figures have been paying off cops to look the other way for decades, so we know this happens all the time. Geffen definitely had the means to pay off a few crooked cops, and voila, a murder becomes a suicide and everybody but Kurt walks away a a winner. As much as I hate to say it, I believe Dave Grohl had some involvement, as nobody has benefited from Kurt’s death more than he has; he went from a quiet drummer to the biggest rock star on Earth after Kurt died. He was likely given an offer he couldn’t refuse for whatever role he played in killing Kurt.

  2. Courtney Killed Kurt says:

    It feels like the media doesn’t even want to entertain this idea because this HUGE money machine that is Nirvana would almost stop in its tracks.

    Can you imagine?

    They re-open the case. They find that Courtney Love was indeed linked to his murder. They find out Cali killed Kurt. Kurt was murdered. The world of music, alongside fans and the music industry, would hold its breath and be at a complete standstill.

    But the industry (like Variety) has to continue on this path that “Kurt killed himself” because this is what everyone has been led to believe.

    This isn’t a conspiracy. It’s the truth. It’s a shame. Everyone who is younger knows the truth because we’re smarter than the older generation who believed everything they were told and never questioned authority. But everyone who uses common sense and pieces things together knows the truth.

    Montage of heck made us think he killed himself of a broken heart. But that’s the furthest from the truth that we can get to.

  3. Barney Fife says:

    Is it the rainy weather or just lazy and incompetent cops ? Unfortunately these Barney Fife level “investigations” are common in other parts of the country as well. If Kurt C. was murdered it is safe to assume no one will ever be held accountable for it thanks to these rocket scientists. People literally get away with murder on a regular basis because it becomes pretty obvious that 1-if we make it look like a suicide ,everyone involved will be eager to agree 2-even if they had their doubts laziness and stupidity will render them helpless..

  4. Matt Levens says:

    Hell yeah biatch

  5. Courtney Love’s attempt to control the media and intimidate witnesses reminds me of a former Tour de France winner seven times over. We all know the truth was revealed in the end…..

  6. Shane Smith says:

    I would like to know if anybody else thinks she stole his songs for Live Through This. It was a great record and Hole never sounded that good again, however the money grabbing thing to do would be to promote them as lost Cobain songs. I can’t help but hear a lot of Nirvana in that CD.

  7. Sarah says:

    Bc there’s no way of deleting an unfinished statement I’ll start again with:
    This DOCUMENTARY, NOT film, was incredibly insightful. I really hope that media bullying will end so other journalists can post their actual opinion. The comment below, by Sophia, makes sense based on a slew of different things. But the media can’t afford to bring to light the truth &/or reality of the situation bc the companies they work for, their bosses wallets, investments, & media assets/persuasion.This isn’t an honest review. This is a communication interns first experience with developing public opinion. The outlet they work for leads them to believe the job is simple & easy. When in fact it’s the ugly stepping stones of development in a totally biased source of information.

  8. Sarah says:

    This DOCUMENTARY, NOT film, was incredibly insightful. I really hope that media bullying will end so other journalists can post their actual opinion. The comment below, by Sophia, makes sense based on a slew of different things. But the media can’t afford to bring to light the truth &/or reality of the situation bc the companies they work for, their bosses wallets, investments, & media assets/persuasion.This isn’t isn’t an honest review

  9. Sophia says:

    I was in Seattle visiting some gay friends after his death and they suggested Cobain was gay. When I said “but he’s married?” They laughed and said “Trust us, he was gay.” I never see any mention of this.

  10. Ann Morgan says:

    never a Kurt Cobain fan but after watching this I sure think there is enough evidence to re-open the case.

  11. yodarudy1 says:

    I admire Tom Grant immensely. I hope SPD re-opens this case. Can’t believe how they handled the crime scene.

  12. mika577 says:

    I remember watching the doco Kurt & Courtney all those years ago and it kind of talked about the conspiracy and dismissed it. This film makes a pretty compelling case that is wasn’t suicide. I would love to see Love (lol) questioned about the inconsistencies of her story. In Montage of Heck she claims that Cobain took 60 something Rohypnol pills, yet this film claims the doctor who treated him denies this. The truth of this would go a long way towards either proving or disproving the question of whether he was suicidal.

  13. A Pietrzak says:

    Suicide. Pretty simple explanation. Tom Grant was at the Cobain house the day before the body was discovered. Despite Kurt lying dead in an upstairs greenhouse with no curtains to obstruct view, Grant failed to come across the body that was in plain sight – what a great detective!
    What is comes down to is this: he blew it. He could have been the guy who found Cobain and it would have made his career. Blaming Courtney is desperate grasp to remain relevant. He was a terrible detective and even worse tabloid journalist. Don’t believe the hype.

    • Smitty says:

      You’re a flaming moron, Kurt Cobain did not kill himself, Courtney Love had and found a way to do this even being in the drugged up state of mind that she was in. She was a terrible spouse and an even worse mother. End of story, get the facts pal before running your mouth

    • yodarudy1 says:

      You’re dumb?

    • Mike Droog says:

      You are either Courtney Love or friends of hers or even better, she hired you to do this. You aren’t fooling anyone.

    • Jay says:

      Cobain had been reported missing.

      Several people, including half a dozen Seattle Police officers went by the house and no one saw him either. No one even bothered to look in the attic.

      Did you actually watch the thing? It’s very striking that the first comment in this section is from someone who seems to have serious problems understanding a movie made for the liberal masses, the lowest common denominator on television.

      Go watch it again and please pay attention to what’s going on.

  14. Dana says:

    Friends, supporters, people of good will, please sign this petition to restore the investigations Kurt’s death! Please share, talk about it with friends. Now is the right moment to do it and Kurt deserve justice after 21 years. Justice for Kurt!

  15. Paul Morrison says:

    I’ve been looking at this since 1997 and the evidence indicates Courtney may have actually hired Kurt’s best friend, Dylan Carlson, to pull the trigger. Dylan was a junky, and a junky will do almost anything to keep the drugs coming. Courtney paid his rent and kept him in heroin for several years after Kurt’s death… why? Was that the deal she offered him to do it? Courtney seems to have intended for Tom Grant to be the guy who discovered Kurt’s body; she gave Carlson explicit instructions that Grant look in the greenhouse where the body was lying, but Carlson instead didn’t even tell Grant that the greenhouse existed. This indicates that Carlson wanted to stay away from the greenhouse likely out of guilt, knowing full well that Kurt was there dead. Carlson would have been the perfect assassin… Kurt would have trusted him and wouldn’t have been suspicious when Carlson injected him with the lethal dose of heroin. Even Courtney is on record as stating that Kurt hated injecting himself and preferred that someone do it for him.

    • someoneknows9 says:

      The Dylan Carlson theory is one that makes a lot of sense. A hardcore addict in the throes of heroin addiction is definitely capable of horrible deeds. Killing a friend and fellow addict in exchange for a lifetime supply of heroin (how long did he himself expect to live at that point, in his condition?) certainly can be seen as not just conceivable but likely.

    • yodarudy1 says:

      Correct

  16. RJ says:

    Actually, Courtney did not say that Kurt was suicidal prior to his death. This was entirely afterwards, once he was gone and could not defend himself. He was NOT suicidal according to everyone who knew him. The Rome overdose alone is very suspicious (it was Courtney’s prescription of rohypnol and Kurt had just told her he wanted a divorce because she was cheating on him). Called the date rape drug, she could easily have slipped it in his drink. She waited hours to call an ambulance after finding him unconscious, in the meantime putting on full make-up.The fact the bullet shell from the shotgun was found the opposite way the gun port was aiming, meaning someone posed the gun on Kurt’s body after firing it, should be enough to reopen the case. There is SO MUCH evidence of foul play in this case. A great injustice was done 21 years ago. Courtney Love belongs behind bars!

  17. Owen says:

    I’m surprised the film failed to mention Eldon Hoke. He’s the guy who claimed that Courtney attempted to hire him to kill Kurt and “make it look like a suicide”. Hoke later died in rather suspicious circumstances, getting hit by a train.

    • KJ says:

      Hoke was far from a dependable character witness, though, is the only problem. Not saying it automatically means he’s lying / just hard to put weight on it.

  18. David says:

    The biggest smoking gun in this case, the one that rarely gets mentioned, is this: Tom Grant has been implicating Courtney Love in a high-profile murder conspiracy for 20 years. If Grant were truly barking up the wrong tree, if Kurt truly committed suicide and Courtney truly was truly innocent of everything Grant accuses her of, Love could have made this all go away a long time ago by suing him for defamation. But she has never done that. These accusations have destroyed her career, so she would have an extremely tight case against Grant IF what were saying were false. This proves her guilt. She knows all too well that if she sues Grant for defamation, the whole thing comes crashing down and this goes from a conspiracy theory to fact. It’s not possible to prove a negative; the only possible result of a defamation suit would be to implicate herself in a murder conspiracy. This is the only explanation why Grant has never been sued for his allegations.

    • Polly says:

      You’re absolutely correct, Courtney is extremely litigious yet she hasn’t sued a man who implicates her in her husband’s murder, despite threatening to do so through her lawyers? This in itself is beyond suspicious.

      .

      • yodarudy1 says:

        Correct

      • NYer says:

        And why are the Seattle police so unhelpful in thoroughly investigating this? Were they just inept in the initial period after the discovery of the body? They immediately called it a suicide and basically did no investigation and destroyed evidence quickly. Maybe they are trying to cover up their mistakes after the fact. All the experts in the film are incredulous at how the death was handled. Every death is to be investigated. No assumptions are to be made by police. Very strange. You investigate to determine whether it’s a murder or suicide. You don’t make a snap judgement and close the case and destroy and hide evidence. It makes no sense. The movie makes a good argument for this case to be reopened and investigated by an outside authority, not the local Seattle police.

  19. Amy says:

    Reblogged this on Jade Social.

  20. What it comes down to, from the past two decades and then some, is a war of information and a contest to speak above the other side with an obvious campaign to intimidate witnesses. To further complicate my assessment in compliment to this discussion, Descartes theorized that telling a lie to so many people for so long would create a sense of mass delusion. Such is the case with what Courtney engineered and executed with the funds that she won after when she followed through with her previous explicit threats to kill her husband. (that she ALMOST LET SLIP from a previous interview with FUSE from 2012)
    There are too many facts which corroborate the testimony of witnesses all seemingly saying the same thing independently of each other which goes completely against the suicide findings which the Seattle PD so casually doled out, and suspiciously so.
    It requires an independent investigation by outside professional investigators from various external agencies to the Seattle PD, or rather from departments such as my own local sheriff’s department…I mean, what are the chances that they of all people would have some special insights to share which may change the official findings forever?

  21. Mike says:

    The only way to truly know is to reopen the case,,,,seems to be what the public wants.,,,it’s a high profile case,,,I’d like to see it rropened,,,Kurt deserved at least a good ,thorough invedtegation,,,,,he can’t tell us,,,maybe they can,,,,let’s heal this open wound,,,I haven’t seen the movie yet but will,,I seen Montage of heck and it was fair,,,seemed alot left out tho,,,alot of focus on Courtney in a positive sense,,,makes me wonder

  22. Daniel Latta says:

    Whenever they talk about Cobain’s suicide, they refer to his escape from an “Los Angeles rehab facility ” — he escaped from Anacapa-by-the-Sea, in Port Hueneme, CA. Saying that is L.A. is like saying White Plains is New York City.

  23. Moderntimes3 says:

    Thank you for writing this well though out article. I loved the movie and recommend anyone to watch it when they have time. It is unfortunate there was not a proper investigation especially since there are so many audio recording and witnesses! Again thanks for sharing! It isn’t fair Kurt’s memory is surrounded by suicide. If the Seattle PD were willing to re-open the case then the questions could be put to rest once and for good.

  24. lucy vickery says:

    Great film.Highly recommend it. Sarah Scott gives great per formance as black widow Love weaving a web of deceit, and the facts discounted by spd and media are laid bare. This movie confirms the fact that Love ordered a hit on her husband when kurt cobain filed for divorce and and planned to remove love from his will.
    I recomnend this movie even if you dont know who Kurt Cobain was,very sad and poetic. Cinemotography is breathtaking. I dont recommend Montage of Crap a poorly assembled drivel to redeem c love black widow in public eye.

  25. Frieda March says:

    this is the most pathetic film ever made. tin foil hat wearing conspiracy theorists. the Sara Scott character is an atrocious actress which only makes this terrible film even worse. This Tom guy is trying to ignite another ten mins of fame 20 years later, and miserably so. waste of my time

    • David says:

      It’s very simple Courtney, if “this Tom guy” isn’t onto something, SUE HIM FOR DEFAMATION! You’d get millions if you’re telling the truth.The fact that you have never sued the man who destroyed your career speaks volumes.

    • Haywood Jablomi says:

      Courtney? Is that you?

  26. Mr. Lucky says:

    If anyone thinks this is a suicide they are delusional. Where there is smoke there is always fire.

  27. Kathleen says:

    And who was using his credit card during the 3 or 4 days his body laid dead? How is it possible that even with surveillance video of the person using his credit card all the way up until hours before his body was discovered, that the police and the media don’t care about the identity of that person?

    The bigger the lie the more likely it will be believed, and the Cobain suicide-theorists are the shining example of how that works!

    • b626 says:

      Sure wish the Seattle P.D. would have tested the can of root beer found near Mr.Cobain’s body.
      What would they have found?
      A sedative in the liquid?

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