×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Soaked in Bleach’

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

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.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3253624/

“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.

More Film

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Writers Guild Expands Suit Against Agencies With New Fraud Allegations

    The Writers Guild of America has bulked up its lawsuit with additional fraud allegations against Hollywood’s four biggest talent agencies. The WGA amended its suit Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court with the claim that CAA, WME, UTA and ICM partners have engaged “constructive fraud” by allegedly placing their own interests ahead of their clients [...]

  • 'Heroes Don't Die' Review: A Peculiar,

    Cannes Film Review: 'Heroes Don't Die'

    Just when you think modern cinema has exploited the found-footage conceit from every conceivable angle, along comes a tragicomic mockumentary tracing Bosnia’s recent war-ravaged history via the travails of a young French film crew getting to the root of a reincarnated identity crisis. Aude Léa Rapin’s first narrative feature “Heroes Don’t Die” is nothing if [...]

  • Mediapro, Complutense, NFTS Team On Screenwriting

    The Mediapro Group Launches Master’s Program at Madrid’s Complutense University

    Madrid-based production hub The Mediapro Studio has announced finalized details of an arrangement with Madrid’s Complutense University (UCM) and the National Film and Television School of London (NFTS) on a new Master’s program designed to develop new screenwriting talent. Mediapro general director Juan Ruiz de Gauna, UCM dean of information sciences Jorge Clemente and Irene [...]

  • Argentina, A New Member of Co-Production

    Argentina Joins European Co-Production Fund Eurimages

    CANNES – Argentina will join the European Council’s co-production fund Eurimages as an associate member starting  on October 1 2019, it was officially announced Monday at the Cannes Film Market. The agreement was unveiled by Ralph Haiek, president of Argentine agency Incaa, Eurimages executive director Roberto Olla and the president of global producers assn. Fiapf, [...]

  • "Black Coal Thin Ice" in Berlin

    Chinese Director Diao Yinan Drills Down on 'The Wild Goose Lake'

    Diao Yinan is the only Chinese director with a film in the main competition this year at Cannes. He’s already a known entity on the arthouse circuit having won the Golden Bear in Berlin in 2014 for his hardscrabble coal-blackened detective thriller “Black Coal, Thin Ice.” Now he makes the leap to the Croisette with [...]

  • Blaise Harrison On Cannes Directors’ Fortnight

    Switzerland’s Blaise Harrison on Directors’ Fortnight Player ‘Particles’

    Swiss filmmaker Blaise Harrison is bringing his fiction feature debut to this year’s Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. Known for his documentary work, Harrison was selected for competition at the 2013 Locarno Festival for his film “Harmony,” about a marching band in the small French town of Pontarlier. “Particles” follows P.A., a teenager [...]

  • Constantin Film AG, Feilitzschstrase 6, Muenchen.

    Constantin’s Martin Moszkowicz on a New Market Realism (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES  —  2019’s Cannes  hit the floor running. Even after just two days of business, major sales companies were fielding offers from much of the world on top titles. After four days, quite a few were pretty confident they’d sell much of the world. Some of those deals are now being confirmed. Martin Moszkowicz, executive [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content