When I Consume You - New Release Review
Director: Perry Blackshear
Starring: Libby Ewing, Evan Dumouchel, MacLoed Andrews, Margaret Ying Drake
Written by: Perry Blackshear
Produced by: MacLoed Andrews, Evan Dumouchel, Perry Blackshear, Libby Ewing
Cinematography by: Perry Blackshear
Original Score by: Mitch Bain
A woman and her brother seek revenge against a mysterious stalker.
Perry Blackshear's third feature film leans heavy on the psychological part of psychological horror in this outstanding Indie effort about having to fight your own inner demons...literally.
'When I Consume You' opens with a punch to the gut as we see Daphne (Libby Ewing) spitting up blood into her tiny bathroom sink and gasping for breath. Her face is bruised and clearly she has been in some sort of violent altercation, one that actually requires her to remove one of her own teeth. It's a fairly intriguing and brutal way to start a film and the way Blackshear shoots this scene tells us that we're gonna be up close and personal with these characters from the get go. Daphne tries her best to hide this incident from her brother Wilson, with whom she is very close and has been looking after for some time now. Wilson (Evan Dumouchel) works as a janitor, "the best janitor" as Daphne defensively proclaims. We're made aware that the siblings have had a tough upbringing and that Daphne has had issues with various types of drugs over the years but she is now in a better place and desperate to try to make a success of what life she las left to live.
Unfortunately for Daphne her life is cut short suddenly and Wilson discovers her lifeless body sitting up on her bed. Initially it appears that she has taken her own life as there is a pool of blood in the living room and strange ritualistic writings and murals on the walls. However Wilson sees a mysterious hooded figure outside Daphne's window and he gives chase but to no avail.
We feel Wilson's heartbreak for his fallen sister and it's difficult to watch as he somehow attempts to accept her sudden departure from his life. Up until this point the focus had been on Daphne, a likeable character with charisma and fantastic screen presence. Libby Ewing's performance cannot be understated. She really gives it her all and I felt genuinely sad to see her die. But fear not, for death is only the beginning of the journey.
After failing to gather any information from the locals and multiple rejections of disbelief from the authorities, there is a real sense that Wilson will fall into a deep and dark depressive state but Daphne returns to save the day. Initially her reappearance is quite subtle but intrusive, helped by an echo effect added to the sound design, almost leading us to believe that it's all in Wilson's imaginative mind. But her presence does become physical and her hand taps in a number into Wilson's cell phone that leads him on a puzzle finding journey that eventually helps to explain her death. Wilson has an encounter with the mysterious hooded figure from Daphne's window and he barely survives an attack. During the physical confrontation the hooded figure clearly states that he "has plans" for Wilson. When Wilson returns to his apartment we get a very familiar scene in the tiny bathroom with Wilson spitting blood and pulling out his own teeth. Daphne finally appears in full form and their reunion is very sweet. However the two come to the decision that Wilson must find the killer before the killer finds him and finishes the job for good.
As mentioned above, Blackshear's style of shooting is very intimate and that particular technique lends itself well to help create a genuine sense of realism. There's lots of handheld camera work employed which is a bit jarring at times but again it adds to the authenticity of the picture and the story that is being told. Shot in a less than reputable area of Brooklyn New York, as far away from the city lights and famous tourist attractions as can be, the film has a gritty, urban, low budget music video feel to it. There's some really gorgeous shots of the Brooklyn streets and all the urban decay that comes with that. Exteriors of small apartments and warehouses are plenty. Beautiful shots of Daphne and Wilson hanging out on their balcony at night. I especially loved the tracking shots when Wilson is aimlessly wandering around the dimly lit streets in the aftermath of Daphne's death. It kind of felt like I was watching segments from a documentary. There's a very brief scene where he is running and I couldn't help but think of Rocky Balboa through the streets of Philly, only it was night time and Wilson didn't have any of the locals cheering him on. Ironically, there is a training montage included too that doesn't live up in any way, shape or form to the iconic Italian Stallion.
After the initial slap-in-the-face start, the film does take a noticeable slow step backwards and basically continues at a plodding pace until the third act. The introduction of David, who at first we're led to believe is a cop, definitely adds some spice to the pot of stew and as the finale approaches the supernatural element to the story intensifies. This is where the horror is turned up a notch and with it the stakes become extremely high.
Blackshear and team may be working with a low budget here but it's clear that he knows what he's doing and he utilises every cent to the best of his ability. There are a few editing issues at times and some of the scenes may have benefitted from reshoots but as far as I'm aware a good chunk of the shooting was interrupted by Covid. The revelation that the hooded figure is in fact a stalker of some sorts that has haunted them for years is clever and a further "twist" involving witchcraft and demonic spells feels unnecessary but actually plays out well in the end.
- Gavin Logan
'When I Consume You' is available from 1091 Pictures on VOD from August 16th. Purchase the film below