Directed by Nicolas Pesce
Starring: Kika Magalhaes, Will Brill, Clara Wong, Flora Diaz and Joey Curtis-Green
UK Cinema Release: March 24th 2017.
"Dreamlike and terrifying…It’s nightmare lingers for weeks" - Time Out
"If Ingmar Bergman had helmed The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it might look something like this exquisite nightmare. - AA Dowd, AV Club
The directorial debut of Nicolas Pesce – shot in glorious black and white, is a beautiful and disturbing portrayal of loneliness and psychosis. One reviewer referred to the film as TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE directed by Ingmar Bergman – enough said really.
Francisca lives on a remote farm with her parents. Her mother, previously an eye doctor in Portugal, teaches her about Francis of Assisi (the origin of her daughter’s name), muses on loneliness, and demonstrates surgical techniques. At one point she dissects a cow’s eye to explain the mechanics of vision. This rather odd childhood is disrupted when a psychotic door-to-door salesman arrives and murders Francisca’s mother. Her father returns, overpowers and injures the assailant who is then incarcerated in the barn, where he becomes a companion and experimental monkey for Francisca. From here, Francisca begins her tragic descent into madness and isolation.
The film is located in the field of what we would call ‘art-horror’; the cinematography is stunning especially in the woodland scenes. However, the presence of insane eye and throat surgery owe more to exploitation films such as MANSION OF THE DOOMED (1976) and DR BUTCHER MD (1980).
As well as its stunning visuals, the film features a great analogue synth score by Ariel Loh, and impressive sound design. An agonisingly prolonged stabbing scene was made horrifying without resorting to graphic imagery, instead relying on the visceral sound of a knife repeatedly entering flesh.
Kika Magalhaes is perfectly cast as Francisca, who is very vulnerable as well as deadly. She commits unspeakable acts in a calm and detached manner; totally befitting her twisted world-view. I was constantly reminded of the book “Killing For Company” about serial killer Dennis Neilson, whilst watching the film. Of course, a more apt serial killer patron would have to be Ed Gein, which places this film in the sacred lineage of PSYCHO, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and DERANGED.
Catch this at the cinema while you can.