Thanatomorphose (2012)

Rotting never felt this good.
Posted on by

Thanatomorphose - Rotting never felt this good

Often the first indication that there might be something arty about a film is that the lead character is an artist and that the film is split into acts. Canadian film Thanatomorphose is a film about a sculptress suffering from body rot and is split into the acts "Despair", "Another" and "Oneself". It is a repugnant celebration of putrescence and bodily fluids and, as this type of film often does, splits the audience like the Apollo Theatre roof. Filling 100 minutes of screen time with a minimal storyline film focussing on a deranged perversity is an ambitious task. Some people want more than a feeling of revulsion from a movie experience whereas others would applaud the courage of going against the grain. Seemingly inspired by the work of Buttgereit (notably Nekromantik) and possibly the Guinea Pig films (notably Mermaid in A Manhole), director Éric Falardeau tries to make bodily decomposition sexy by focussing on the visuals rather than the how or the why.

The plot is inconsequential. An artist, bored of her art and in a loveless relationship wakes up with bruises which progress to rot. Her decomposition fills the void that her artistic motivation and sexual-emotional requirements once filled and her condition becomes her obsession.

The sexual symbolism manages to be provocative and bold yet also vague within the context of what is happening. There is the degradation of the yonic ceiling crack, rotten pussy petting, thankless sex acts plus more bush and wang than a Chinese coach tour of the Australian outback. Despite this, the sexuality doesn’t feel like it is a consequence of the putridity. There is a disjointment between the two which makes it seem gratuitous rather than an important element. The underemphasis of this sexual undertone could be the reason many critics demand realism and a visit to the hospital as soon as the illness starts to look critical. It is not overly apparent that there is an element of erotisism attached to the decay and that a cure is not necessarily what the victim wants.

The deterioration of the main character is eventually taken to some extraordinary levels of decay. This becomes quite nauseating as the film progresses due to the relentless on-screen imagery and the almost relishment of the sufferer as she maintains herself in various stages of her blight. The effects are very convincing and make an unconvincing scenario seem all the more real. The rot sets in quite slowly and this gives the film a very slow pace but this could be no other way as it doesn’t go anywhere else. All main excretions are drawn into the study as she pukes, pisses and soils her way around her apartment leaving a trail of fetid flesh, hair and maggots. This seems unnecessary for plot development but necessary to compound the feeling of disgust that Thanatomorphose adeptly extracts from the viewer. There is even a misplaced blow job that is seemingly simply an excuse to have her spit out one more of the main excretion groups.

The dialogue is minimal, the characters don’t even get names. When other's interact with the sufferer the scenes seem disconnected and the dialog seems forced. It feels like an attempt to add substance where substance isn't required and is probably more damaging to the experience rather than endearing the audience towards the plight of the characters. Films of a similar nature often take interaction scenes to bizarre places which, while seeming irrelevant in the context of the movie, add to the confusion which heightens the disgust. Human interaction scenes in Thanatomorphose don’t really bring anything to the table in the idiomatic sense (refer back to the blow job scene for the more literal sense). The quietness is frequently interrupted by distorted scenes with loud, almost industrial music to try and clash with the serenity, even utilising the compulsory animal corpse. Once again these scenes seem to not comfortably add to the uncomfortableness.

Thanatomorphose disgusts quite handsomely and if that is all that was intended then this achieves that quite competently. The combination of the gore and the sexuality have been implemented well but the times when an attempt is made to add substance seem over ambitious and not thoroughly thought through. This has the detrimental effect of diluting the two aspects that work well together. For a simple story the intrigue is proficiently maintained and the build up to the only workable conclusion is executed precisely making this a noteworthy entry within the body horror subgenre.
This review was posted on by

Thanatomorphose: Movie Information

Thanatomorphose: Related Images

Thanatomorphose: External Links