Thursday, 26 December 2013



If only it had been better made. On the level of pure visual disgust and revulsion this low-budget Canadian body horror/drama is a stunning achievement with several scenes causing me to wince or to look away: the physical and makeup effects are genuinely impressive. But on a technical level it's an absolute chore to get through its mere 97 minutes or so: the filmmaking basics are of a shockingly low standard, with the image frequently out of focus, dialogue poorly recorded, and actors cut off the frame by bad camera placement as if they'd just plonked the camera on the floor themselves and performed without being able to see if they were actually visible. A deliberate aesthetic choice or just incompetence? Even the dreaded found footage doesn't usually look this ugly.

Apparently Thanatomorphose is defined as "the visible signs of an organism's decomposition caused by death". An unnamed woman (Kayden Rose) leads a joyless existence in a glum apartment: the sex with her charmless lover isn't fulfilling, her artistic drive has faded. Then she gradually starts decomposing, her hair and fingernails falling out, her skin bruising and blotching. No cause is suggested, but presumably her life is so empty and pointless there's really no reason to wait until death before falling apart. Yet rather than call a doctor or an ambulance, she continues to putrefy....

Less of a zombie film (although she is quite literally the living dead) and more of a slow-paced, grim and miserable character piece with frank nudity in the early scenes and an unnerving (and in all honestly unnecessary) focus on bodily fluids, Thanatamorphose is absolutely no fun to watch and was in retrospect probably a bad choice of DVD for Christmas Eve! I haven't been as depressed and revolted by a horror film in many years, probably since Jorg Buttgereit's Schramm or Nekromantik.  But the technical shoddiness, of the dialogue rendered indecipherable, the images more often than not out of focus (not helped by the signifcantly below-HD picture resolution anyway) and the actors frequently ending up out of the static camera's eyeline, undoes all the undeniably good fleshy FX work. There is no reason why this couldn't have been made to look like a proper film rather than a video diary or a Skype call, and it's this decision, to either settle for the low-res imagery or to deliberately employ it, that kills it. Impossible therefore to really recommend.


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