I’ve never encountered a motion picture quite like “Thanatomorphose.” You’re either going to absolutely adore this movie or hate it with every fiber of your being. It’s one of the most depressing and thoroughly exhausting horror flicks I’ve ever encounter, and that’s really saying something. Anyone who’s read my reviews at Beyond Hollywood knows that I’ve stuffed some seriously demented cinema into my brain over the years. However, this one easily takes the cake as the most grueling. And, yes, I clearly remember “A Serbian Film.”
There isn’t much of a plot to speak of in writer/director Éric Falardeau’s deranged little flick. Instead, you get to watch an emotionally insecure 20-something come to terms with the fact that her body is slowly rotting from the inside out. The movie is damned slow, but it’s thoroughly fascinating in its presentation of the situation. If you’ve ever watched someone waste away from a terminal illness, then you might find this a tough watch. There were moments when I wondered what the hell I was doing with my spare time.
What’s particularly cool about “Thanatomorphose” is that Falardeau doesn’t offer any explanations for the main character’s predicament. It just happens — no worldwide epidemic or supernatural tomfoolery is coughed up as an explanation. All you know is that something terrible is happening to this poor girl. And just when you think the movie won’t take the premise to the extreme, you quickly discover that the cast and crew aren’t adhering to any boundaries. They’re taking this thing all the way to the bitter end.
It’s worth noting that making it to the third act requires a serious suspension of disbelief. The fact that she never seeks medical attention is a little strange, particularly since there’s nothing in the film that suggests she’s terrified of the folks in the medical profession. Some of the scenarios that pop up over the course of the flick is also a little perplexing, particularly since her body is literally hanging by a few cheap threads. Then again, maybe I wasn’t supposed to take everything at face value. Perhaps I’ve missed the point entirely.
One area where the flick truly shines is in the special effects department. The FX team should receive nothing but compliments for making this woman look like a shambling sack of rotting flesh. Her transformation is subtle at first, though it quickly spirals into a full-blown cinematic vomitorium. Had Falardeau and company fumbled the ball, the whole movie would have fallen apart. Gore fiends won’t walk away from the experience disappointed.
Don’t watch “Thanatomorphose” if you have a weak stomach. It’s a gruesome movie, especially when the character’s condition starts to take a turn for the worse. Even this seasoned gorehound had trouble processing some of the stuff that popped up toward the end of the flick. As long as you can accept the endeavor with all its flubs and flaws — and the surreal amount of nudity — it’s definitely worth watching. The movie isn’t for everyone, but those who enjoy taking their cinema with a hefty dose of punishment will have plenty to sing about once that final shot creeps into their brains. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again.
Éric Falardeau (director) / Éric Falardeau (screenplay)
CAST: Émile Beaudry