Thanatomorphose is described in Reverse's French language dictionary as modifications visibles ques la mort provoque sur les organismes. Translated into English: visible changes that death causes on organisms. In what may be the most disturbing film since David Lynch's Eraserhead or at least since The Human Centipede. Writer/Director Eric Falardeau delivers a complete and extremely close up view of a case of decomposition. The twist is the subject that decomposes is not an orange that you find under the rear seat in your car, bananas that you stumble across in a bag under your bed or even an animal that was hit by a car and discovered in a ditch at the side of the road. The object of this study is a woman who literally rots from the inside out.
The story opens with a young nameless woman wandering around in her apartment naked after having sex with her boyfriend. He soon comes out bedroom in the same state to use the bathroom. It's quickly apparent that this is not a deep relationship. The woman notices a bruise on her right shoulder but thinks nothing of it. The next morning she awakes heads to the shower and looses two fingernails as she prepares for work. Thus begins a daily pattern of waking to new bruises, skin discolouration, weakness and increased pain.
The most curious aspect of the film is the woman's reaction to the changes. She doesn't react alarmed or panicked. She doesn't consider going to the hospital at the early stages of the metamorphosis. Instead she is detached almost observing the changes as a scientist charting the progress of an experiment. Our heroine does display signs early on in the film that she is a person that is very much alone, empty and suffering from low self esteem. Her circle of friend is small, there is no mention of any family, her boyfriend is both neglectful and abusive. She is focused on sex as attempt to feel but above it all she is about to abandon her one passion in life sculpting.
Cinematographer Benoit Lemire keeps the lens set to a small aperture for the majority of the production. Every scene in the film takes place in the woman's apartment and for the most part in low light. The lighting scheme fits well with the claustrophobic feeling for the piece. It also helps to make the audience work to decipher what they really see as the lead character transforms. The darker tones also play well with the hand held camera work that follows the protagonist as she regularly stumbles from the bedroom to the bathroom to discover what has befallen her each day.
Actress Kayden Rose turns in an extraordinary performance in the lead role. It's her first role in a feature film and she is in every frame of the movie. The role is extremely physical as she has to often demonstrate the pain and suffering inflicted on her character throughout the piece. It's a very gutsy performance as she spends a lot of time on camera without any clothing and as she decays the number of prosthesis increase and she is covered in the natural evidence of a rotting organism.
Special makeup effects designer David Scherer who's majority of earlier work has been in shorts and T.V. created some signature work in this film. His endeavour to slowly turn a fit mid 20's woman into an oozing bundle of cells is both hard to watch and mesmerizing at the same time. Every day she's a little more discoloured and she's leaking somewhere new another appendage is now useless and either comes off by itself or is forcibly removed by the owner.
Thanatomorphrose is a riveting, horrifying spectacle that goes beyond the category of a horror genre film. It's the visualization of the link between the emotional and the physical. The main character is emotionally vacant which her body physically manifests. I'm not going to recommend this film but will instead say go see it but beware that it will stay with you long after you walk out of the theatre.
*** 1/2 out of 4.
Thanatomorphrose | Eric Falardeau | 2012 | Canada | 100 Minutes.
Tags: Horror, Decay, Diseased, Emotionless, Lustful, Transformation, Hopeless, Inevitable, Loneliness, Despair.