M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Four of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2013 and going through September 30, 2014. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2013 and September 30, 2014 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

January 21, 2014. Available on digital download, On Demand, and DVD/Blu-ray!

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

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 with. 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 descends. Falardeau pulls no punches here and gives no shits as far as who he nauseates along the way. 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 a deal-breaker 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 of THANATOMORPHOSE 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 that I have no idea how they pulled off, but somehow they did it and it feels all the more nauseatingly effective that they occur in scene rather than being 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. I’m not sure what it was about 2014. Three films deal with the connection between sex and death in terms of a disintegrating human body. CONTAMINATED, AFFLICTED, THANATOMORPHOSE—all of these films are about the deconstructing the body because of bad decisions made by their stars. Sure, each have their unique take, but trends like this always intrigue me. Whatever the reason, THANATOMORPHOSE is a film that stands out above and beyond the rest.

BEWARE: This trailer has decaying boobs! NSFW!




THE 2013-2014 COUNTDOWN!


#27 – THANATOMORPHOSE
#28 – DEVOURED
#29 – CONTRACTED
#30 – DISCOPATH
#31 – SATURDAY MORNING MYSTERY


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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