When it comes to the world of horror films, there tends to be a huge pissing contest between critics, fans and film-makers alike over which one should be crowned with the title of ‘scariest horror film ever made’ or ‘most disturbing horror film ever made’, but of course the main problem with this is the fact that it’s all down to opinion. What this also means however is that it’s hard to find those films that are truly worthy of such titles because you have to wade through so many, and when everyone’s telling you the sludge is gold, it makes the search even harder.
This, I imagine, is no new information to anyone, and this title giving is nothing new either. Ever since the 1950’s, films have been going out of their way to argue with each-other over which one is the scariest or most disturbing; from having such phrases shoved down our throats in the advertising, to some films even having their titles try and do that selling for them (see Bloodfeast, Wizard of Gore and 1000 Convicts and a Woman). What this means is that anyone relatively new to the genre, seeking out the most perverse and horrific film imaginable will have a list of over 150 titles all claiming a piece of that pie.
This is a fact that’s even more of a problem today because every year our cinemas become stocked with films that have all been called, ‘The scariest film in decades’or ‘the most disturbing film since’, and this isn’t just with most mainstream horror titles, this is all of them. Don’t believe me, go to YouTube and start searching the trailers for upcoming mainstream horror films and see how they all elevate from the unoriginal, jump-scare injected with a chance of shaky cam flicks that they are to something mythological. ‘But that’s just the advertisement and of course it’ll say that to get people to see it!’ I hear you say – well yeah, that’s very true, but false advertisement is false advertisement and dammit, I’m getting sick of it. This is why if you really want to find those horror films chocked full of imagination and passion, you must look to the independent circuit.
Say what you will about indie films, but quite a lot of the time I find them inspired and creative, and considering there’s no big wigs jumping in and barking at the production team about what has made their films successful in the past, you’ll always find new life – life that hasn’t really been seen before. That’s why if you are looking for a film that can take home the title of scariest or sickest, I would look to independent films. Perhaps I’m biased but that’s probably because I think I’ve found the sickest horror film ever made – Thanatomorphose.
A young woman who feels her life isn’t going anywhere wakes up one morning to find her body covered in bruises, as the film goes on, her body begins to change at an alarming and disgusting rate. That’s it, that’s all you need to create an incredibly intriguing premise. When I first heard about this film, I thought it was going to be your run of the mill body-shock horror film – no real substance, no real weight but with a promise that the main character is going to change into something awful, but there’s a lot more to this film than that.
You see, when I say this is the sickest horror film ever made, I mean it in two senses. On the one hand it’s the sickest because what this woman goes through is incredibly graphic and disgusting, and on the other it’s the sickest in that ‘yo dis iz sick bruv’ kind of way because it’s such a simple idea, yet very original and effective.
There’s hardly any story to it – yes, we get glimpses into her love life, as well as minor peaks into her daily life and social group but what anyone is really there for is the transformation, and boy is it something. But the most interesting thing about said transformation is the fact that it isn’t really a transformation. Her body is changing sure, but not into anything in particular – in fact, her body is simply decaying and rotting away.
And that’s exactly why I think that this is up there with the best horror films. The tendency is to view horror from the in the moment reaction we give to them. Making you jump is memorable albeit forgettable to veterans; making you hide behind the pillow earns top marks but in the end, it’s all down to in the moment. That is unless you view horror the same way I do – that horror comes from true fear, the things that when we imagine them happening to us, we become truly afraid.
Now picture if you will the scenario of this film, this girl has nothing medically wrong with her, nor is it some curse or demon fucking around with her, she hasn’t been bitten or infected with anything, and she certainly hasn’t been having sex with anything weird – that is except an abusive boyfriend. So, what’s happening to this girl can neither be understood or explained yet, it’s happening to her all the same.
Now to me, as it is to a lot of people I’m sure, health and bodies can be incredibly scary especially when we don’t know what’s wrong. However, normally there is only one part of us that’s afflicted but here, HER ENTIRE BODY IS ROTTING AWAY. Now imagine how that would feel, and the fear of not knowing what’s caused it, imagine the pain and the confusion, and especially the isolation you would feel. Terrifying.
It is as H.P. Lovecraft said, the greatest fear to all mankind is the fear of the unknown, and trust me when I say that this kind of unknown brings with it great fear.
If you’re a big gore fan, but also want to see something absolutely disgusting yet incredibly intriguing, I can’t recommend this film enough.
Little FYI though – the trailer doesn’t do it justice.