Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its fifth year in October! Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers, I have once again compiled a list counting down to my favorite horror film released since last October and covered in this here AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Some of these films might be new to you since there isn’t a lot of horror in theaters these days that aren’t toothless remakes or watered down sequels. The theater just doesn’t seem to be the place where the horror is at these days, I’m sad to say. Some of these films have only seen the light of day on Video On Demand or simply go straight to DVD/BluRay or digital download.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year since October 1st, 2013 (which happens to be the birthday of this little column five years ago!) and worked and reworked a list until I had 31. No real method to my special brand of madness. We’ll be counting down every day until Halloween to my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion at the end of each post that is worth noting or missed being on the list by a little bit for those who can’t get enough horror.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know how you liked the film I chose, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own list…let’s go!
You can check out THANATOMORPHOSE on iTunes here and on Amazon here. Below is my review of THANATOMORPHOSE from February!!
Available on DVD from MVD Entertainment!
THANATOMORPHOSE (2012)Directed by Éric Falardeau
Written by Éric Falardeau
Starring Kayden Rose, Davyd Tousignant, Émile Beaudry, Karine Picard, Roch-Denis Gagnon, Eryka Cantieri
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Disgusting, beautiful, nauseating, surreal, morose, mesmerizing, haunting, morbid, and soul-shreddingly tragic are just a few words I’d use to describe Éric Falardeau’s film THANATOMORPHOSE, which is equal parts Kafka’s METAMORPHOSIS, Polanski’s REPULSION, and Cronenberg’s THE FLY.
This is not a film for the squeamish. I repeat, this time with feeling: this is not a film for the squeamish! THANATOMORPHOSE, which I believe roughly translates into “becoming death”, is a film unlike any I’ve seen. In many ways, it’s a triumph—in practical special effects, in simplistic storytelling, in metaphorical storytelling, and in the depths and levels of tragedy it falls into and rots in. The story follows a young struggling artist (Kayden Rose) who is in a relationship with a brutish boyfriend that is going nowhere and is obviously extremely unhappy with her life. The film opens with a montage of oversaturated imagery which only after a while I was able to piece together as a surreal sex scene. Soon after, the young woman (Rose) sees a bizarre bruise on her arm, but thinks nothing of it. Thus begins a literal decomposition of the poor young thing and it plays out minute by meltingly painstaking minute.
There are people who will absolutely loathe this film for the depths to which it goes. Falardeau pulls no punches here and gives no shit as far as what he will show and won’t show. Vomit, blood, guts, gore, piss, shit, pus, bile—there isn’t a body fluid that isn’t addressed on screen in the most vile of manners as the woman decomposes in front of our very eyes over the hour and forty minutes of this film. For many, the simplicity and gratuity of the story is going to be an utter turn-off because, basically, that’s really all there is to this film—one woman completely disintegrating mind, body (especially body) and soul before our eyes. For some it’s just going to be too much, and while I respect the opinion of those folks, I can’t help but wholeheartedly disagree.
What Falardeau has given us here can be seen as metaphor for the struggle any young woman goes through when trying to find herself and her way in life. The scope could be broadened a bit to be a comment on the death of art, since the main character is an artist who, even as she is falling apart, still tries to create. The view could even be expanded to evoke some kind of commentary about the inevitability of death for all of us. Whatever the metaphor at work here, this is my kind of film. Sure it’s artsy, but it’s definitely not insubstantial. My heart ached watching this poor woman try her best to literally keep herself together with thread, gauze, and duct tape as her world and body falls apart around her. A lot of that has to do with Kayden Rose’s courageous performance, as she is nude and exposed for 95% of this film (aside from all of the decomposition makeup, that is). The palpable torment she goes through in this film will leave your soul stinging.
From a practical effects point of view, I haven’t seen anything like this. In an age when CG shatters all semblance of reality in most films, modern horror makers should take note to see how tactile and effective practical effects can be. The makeup isn’t bulky or cheap. Rose is covered in slime and ooze, and her flesh actually falls off the bone by the latter portions of the film. There are effects in this film I have no idea how they pulled off, but somehow they do it and it feels all the more nauseatingly effective that they were done in the scene rather than added later with CG.
THANATOMORPHOSE is definitely not a film for everyone. If you have a strong stomach, an appreciation for the more artsy films, and can steel your soul in preparation for watching, you just might be ready for this film. I’ve warned the rest of you. This is a vile and disgusting film sure to cause feelings of unease, loathing, and utter urp-itude. It’s also one of the most tragically beautiful films I’ve seen in terms of effects, simplicity, and sheer guts on director Falargeau and actress Rose’s part. This is a film I most definitely will not forget.
Worth Noting: CONTRACTED!CONTRACTED is basically the same sort of story as THANATOMORPHOSE, about a woman who contracts a venereal disease that ends up turning her into a zombie after she has a one night stand with a man who has sex with a corpse in a morgue (that man played by THE GUEST and YOU’RE NEXT writer Simon Barrett). The film takes some bold turns and is definitely not one I would call a fun horror experience, but it is successful in making you feel creepy and uneased as all get out.
Check out my full review of the film here and you can check out the film here on Amazon!
#30: STALLED (worth noting: CHRYSALIS)!
#29: RIGOR MORTIS (worth noting: I AM A GHOST)!
#28: GHOST TEAM ONE (worth noting: HYSTERICAL PSYCHO!
See ya tomorrow, folks, as I count down the best of the best covered in AICN HORROR since October 1st, 2013!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 13 years & AICN HORROR for 4. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
Be sure to tell your comic shop to order his new comic PIROUETTE from Diamond Previews (item code JUL14 0937) and the new issue #2 available to order in Previews (item code AUG14 1131) from Black Mask Studios!!