After a few events that has rocked her relationship, her body is starting to act strange. She wakes up with bruises and marks that seemingly came out of nowhere, and it gets worse by the day.
Scavenging festivals a few months back for things to cover I stumbled upon a body horror called "Thanatomorphose", but due to a long list of titles to review this one ended up pretty far down on the list. Little did I know that I had what perhaps is the gross-out movie of the year laying there, waiting. To say that the movie has been well received would be an understatement: one example is that it just now won the Best Film Award at Spanish festival XXXI Festival de Cine de Terror de Molins de Rei going up against some very good and interesting titles, and reviewers all around have spat out quote after quote of hyperbole for this arthouse horror.
Bruises start appearing on a young woman's body out of nowhere, and she starts feeling weaker and weaker, but with a strange lust. Prior to this her relationship has been going awry, another guy shows an interest in her, and she has decided to give up her craft of sculpting. Adding these bruises-turned-wounds, her entire life has been thrown upside down. As a start, this weird occurence naturally comes as a confusing shock to her. After all, where are these damn bruises coming from? But gradually she accepts it more and more, and documents it in varies forms. Maybe more for herself than as a study. Perhaps the thing that makes this story work the best is that it's very optimized, mostly set in only her apartment. I love it when movies use few characters and few locations, and it's possible that this movie would've been ruined had it been made differently. To really grasp the nightmare and torture that our young woman has to go through as her body slowly rots, we need to spend a extended amount of time with her, and only her. It just makes sense, and that's exactly why we eventually start seeing the true horror in what's happening to her, and even more what WILL happen to her. It wouldn't have been made possible without a good actress, of course. Kayden Rose, actress and model, takes upon the role as a champ, allowing herself to be completely soaked into her character.
I believe there is a big difference in trying to make a movie as gross as possible, and simply making a gross-out horror. Movies that try hard to be gross come off as Troma, whereas making gross-out horror where the story forces the movie to be gross, that's when it's a true punch in the gut. When I think of great gross-out, I think of Cronenberg's "The Fly". Sci-fi and body horror, sure, but you can't argue that it's an extremely gross movie and it has all the right in the world to be. We want it to be, because we want to feel the horror and pain of the Brundlefly. "Thanatomorphose" is the zombie equivalent of "The Fly". It's the closest we've come to a similar experience in many years, and that can only mean one thing: the crowd is both grossed out and horrified, and there's nothing they can do about it.
Body parts such as nails and fingers fall out, the skin rots to an extreme, skin splits as objects hit them, bodily fluids spill as the body stops functioning. Throughout we're legitimately grossed out, perhaps more so than shocked and disturbed. There are times where it does manage to be disturbing, and no doubt it will shock quite a lot of people, but I think if anything this movie manages to pass on the feeling of pain and discomfort that will make you hide your hand when the nails fall off (and such), more than it will make you upset at its content. The effects are solid through-out, some are simply excellent, but inevitably some effects look less impressive. You have to accept that when you're watching a movie that has at least 1 effect on screen at all time. We're watching a naked woman rot away, nothing is hidden for us, so if they slip up on a prosthetic or latex wound here and there, we're likely to see it. But these are so few that the great ones outshines them without a struggle. I was impressed by the effects.
Although sex and nudity plays a huge part of the movie, and that might make it too much for some. While the sex scenes aren't graphic, everything else about the movie is. For the majority of the movie our lead character is walking around naked, and it doesn't feel at all out of place: it's back to nature, and also gives us an uncensored view at her body rotting away. It's appropriate. But trust me, there's lots of nudity and every part is shown without shying away, yet there's nothing pornographic with the shots because the camera isn't focusing on that, instead it just happens to be in front of the camera.
Oddly enough, I'm in the sixth paragraph and I've barely even touched the fact that the movie has artistic merit and a few experimental scenes. The cinemtography overall is great. It's filled with precise planning of shots, where several of them are good enough to be able to grace a front cover or poster. But this also takes me to some of my minor issues with the movie - yes, it's not spotless or perfect. I was excited when I saw the opening part, a rather experimental sex scenes, but would soon learn that most of the movie had a very different style. A more slick style. There are only about 2 scenes that are experimental in the way of the opening, and personally they felt a bit odd next to the rest of the movie. As much as I enjoyed them. Now, they did give a certain effect being a complete contrast to the otherwise slow, calm movie, but overall I couldn't truly appreciate them. There are moments in the movie where it's being very metaphorical, and some of them are excellent. Such as the wallpaper being more and more torn and filthy the closer to total decay she gets. But then there is a scene in the middle of the movie that I just thought came out rather stupid. Perhaps I didn't grasp the whole idea of it, maybe it was supposed to give a hint rather than being a metaphor, but either way I didn't have a use for it. When the movie is 100 minutes long, which is pretty long for this kind of a movie, bits like these could perhaps have been taken out without ruining the overall feeling of the movie. I love that the movie is slow, that the shots take time to tell their story even when it's a rather still shot, but 100 minutes is a lot. It really is, and I'm saying that having watched movies well over 7 hours long.
As odd as it sounds, I am pretty convinced that I have seen the director's previous short film "Crépuscule", but I have no proof! I can't really remember it, but the title and screenshots that I found online are both extremely familiar. When I first saw that he also made that short film, my brain instantly thought, "Oh, he made that!?". What I'm getting at here is that even though his previous short featured some of the artistic choices and things we're shown in "Thanatomorphose", it was very likely not up to my liking enough to remember it. However, with "Thanatomorphose" there is no doubt that Éric Falardeau will get worldwide recognition. It's gross-out/body horror at its most primal: just a character and her body, slowly rotting away. It gets a bit long at times, and perhaps the story feels TOO slim considering the runtime, but there is so much in here that will make up for it. Great effects, lots of gooey and gorey wounds, good acting, lots of nudity that will give us mixed feelings depending on her state of decay, and a director with a taste for the arts - what's not to like about this movie? Anyone who wants an uncomfortable evening of gorey, slimey wounds and staring death in the eyes, "Thanatomorphose" is a good place to start.