Tuesday, October 6, 2015

THANATOMORPHOSE Review by Vincent Daemon

Year: 2012
Director/Writer: Eric Falardeau
Review by: Vincent Daemon

A tricky film to review, as not much actually happens on a visual level *(well, it does, but not in any standard sense). THANATOMORPHOSE is an Hellenic word meaning the visible signs of a once healthy and living things decay, the cause of which is death. And the film delivers death in spades. In fact, nothing but. However, this is not for your casual viewer. Essentially an arthouse menagerie of visual grotesquerie, this is also an horrific, near-brilliant trip down existential nightmare lane. Though we also get to see her uterus sluice out, too. It begins with an hallucinogenic mashup of sight and sound *(used to great effect throughout the course of the film) of a man and woman having sex. After that, the film becomes grey and dark in tone, as the female lead cleans the blood from her wretched, abusive boyfriends foot after he steps on a loose nail. He storms out and she is left alone, awake, and terribly unfulfilled. Being an artist, she seems to have run into a block with her latest sculpture, as well. *(I found sculpture a nice choice of artistic form as it is all about the malleability of the clay-made-flesh, and speaks volumes metaphorically). Then, she notices the odd scab on her shoulder. Her apartment is insanely claustrophobically small, and the entirety of the film in fact takes place in that sole location, to what I feel is a fairly decent effect. She has a party, which ends in a display of public verbal and physical humiliation by her boyfriend, and an abrupt end to said party. But not until after her best friend questions as to why she stays with him. Her answer is stumbly and full of holes *(as most are from people caught in those situations), but she swears she loves him, etc. She confronts him after the party clears out, only to more abuse, then cold, mechanical sex. The next day her skin pallor has changed significantly, and her basic cognitive skills are on the fritz. Essentially, the rest of the film plays out much this way, with her sitting completely alone, in dead silence, slowly necrotizing into nothingness from the inside out. The process is slow, and agonizing to watch. This bizarre STD condition also has her incredibly, violently horny most all the time as well, and brings strange, surreal nightmares of sex, monstrosity, and violence, when she can actually sleep. Eventually she kills her boyfriend, leaving his corpse to rot. The next day she awakes, and flies can be heard buzzing amongst the rotting detritus, and her, as she stumbles completely alone, rapidly decaying, and quite confused, around her apartment - - - when not staring blankly at a wall and trying to stitch herself back together. Her best friend stops by, sees her condition, and tries to get her to a hospital, which she refuses, giving him a blowjob instead, which he accepts with a series of mixed feelings and a bit of concern, but accepts nonetheless. He then leaves. Alone again, her condition worsens by the second, the final act of the film being truly grotesque and for the hardest of hardcore alone. Several days later, as most of her extremities have quite graphically fallen off *(and she starts keeping them in jars, Brundle-fly style). Several days later, her friend comes back again, finds her a fully rotten, maggot filled sack of living death, and tries to get her to a hospital, as she begs to be fukked. She then flips, saying he won’t fukk her because she is too gross, but good enough
for a blowjob. She then kills him *(heh, women). Finally, she just lays in her deathbed, compulsively masturbating *(which she’s been doing the entire film anyway, vile fluids eventually drizzling from her vag), as all parts of her begin to decay, mucous over, and when she finally leaves the bed in the final scene, sluice right off, as her flesh has now become that of liquified slippage. As this happens and her maggot filled death-sex corpse of poisoned madness reaches its full and final
stages of decay, her mouth opens wide as she lets out a primordial scream of unbearable agony, ripping at the last of the gristle clinging to her maggot-filled skeleton - - - until her jawbone falls off, and her fleshless corpse falls into the fetid puddle of its own oneness as tragic and alone as it was during the disorienting and cold display of sex in the opening shots. This is not for everyone. The vileness of what we witness can only be seen to be properly explained and appreciated, and the fx work put into her external decay top notch, and sickeningly effective. But the film is cold-molasses slow, I believe deliberately, mimicking the loneliness and impending doom of her
terminal condition. It’s like being on death row, in a sense. But it actually works within the limited confines and dialogue of this particular film. However, for the patient and more read between the line types, this is a sick trip worth taking. It’s existentially frightening, her external conditions really being nothing more than a physical affectation of her spiritual/mental/emotional ones. At its larvae-slithering heart, THANATOMORPHOSE is about the truly unbearable darkness of being, of the psychological effects of lack/loss of sense of self, of the inability to
find real love in a world growing evermore cold and claustrophobic, and it's biblically catastrophic effects on the psyche. It’s a metaphor for the lonely-lost, the incessant pain and life altering damage that can result from lack of love, of touch, and about the desperation it causes as well as isolation that births it. There’s a depth here not found in many films that goes deep, and the ever-increasing visual grotesqueries only serve to actually tell the tale through the decay. It’s unique, and it takes patience, but comes with my highest recommendations. And there’s a definite NEKROMANTIC vibe here, only in the reverse. And it is disgusting. This is the new body horror, along with other films that do what classic body horror should: induce thought - - - and I like it.

Consequently, there was another film that was made just after this, CONTRACTED, that treads similar territory in its own unique fashion, though is not as nearly existential in its terror. I believe there’s even a CONTRACTED 2 now, which I’m curious to see. *(In fact I believe I may have reviewed the original in the Vault somewhere). But THANATOMORPHOSE is definitely worth the time of the patient, deep-thought leaning horror fan.

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