Thanatomorphose Movie Review
Written by Michel Sabourin
DVD released by Unearthed Films
Written and directed by Éric Falardeau
2012, 99 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on January 21st, 2014
When you give your film a challenging name, you hinder its appeal somewhat. It's harder for people to remember and spread the word. "Thanatomorphose" is French for the visible signs of decay and decomposition caused by death. While it is a fitting title, and it may be a more commonly used word in the French language, it's not common vocabulary in the US parlance, and I would hazard a guess it's not in most of the world as well. When you handicap your movie in that way, you had better deliver a product that is memorable in a good way. A good horror movie should haunt you. Even if it doesn't make you want to sleep with a light on, it should leave you a little shaken and disturbed; at the least, uncomfortable. I have always been a fan of body horror and horror that makes me as unsettled as it does terrified. Thanatomorphose is a fine example of a movie that does both well and leaves the viewer a little worse for the wear in their heads.
It is the story of a young artist living in a new apartment who, for reasons never explained, begins to decompose like a corpse left to rot. It's slow at first. A little bruising and skin flakes here and there. But it rapidly begins to accelerate as the movie plays out and her skin begins to literally slough off and she loses body parts. Uncomfortable yet? Okay. How about we start mixing sex with this rotting woman into the movie? It takes a lot to make sex as unappetizing as this. At one point, her friend who has a crush on her comes to visit and urges her to go to the hospital. She responds by giving him oral, which leaves him so shaken he runs out the door. Let's also toss in some incontinence just to make sure we hit all the bases.
The fact that there is no rhyme or reason given for the events that transpire is a choice I applaud the filmmakers for. Rather than waste precious time building a subplot to explain away everything, we're left with questions galore, and that's okay. The pace and editing are very French. It moves slowly at first, ramping incrementally to its increasingly morbid finale. The visual effects are really well handled, if a touch stomach churning. It is disgusting and horrifying, but in a way horror has been missing. Horror fans, especially Cronenberg fans, should flock to this and support it in any way possible. This is a fantastic example of French horror I am proud to mention in the same breath as Martyrs. Thanatomorphose isn't a movie for the average viewer, but it should be.
Thanatomorphose will be shown at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival on November 29th, 2013. Click here for tickets.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.