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Grimmfest 2022 Film Feature - Do Not Disturb

Directed by: John Ainslie

Written by: John Ainslie

Starring: Kimberly Laferriere, Rogan Christopher, Janet Porter

 


 

Synopsis: Chloe and Jack travel to Miami for their honeymoon. Amidst the flashy neon and sunny beaches, they decide that a peyote experience will strengthen their marriage. Unbeknownst to them, they’ve been given a rare and powerful strand that awakens a desire to eat human flesh.


Grimmfest say: Holing up in an anonymous Florida hotel with a large quantity of psychotropic drugs is probably not the best way to celebrate and consolidate your marriage, even if you have some experience with the drugs in question. If you don’t – if you don’t even know what those drugs actually are, or what they might do – well, then, you shouldn’t really be surprised when things get… messy. But you might be surprised at just HOW messy they get in John Ainslie’s cautionary tale of ill-considered actions and terrifying consequences. An emotionally involving and genuinely disturbing mix of deftly observed relationship drama, sly social satire, and harrowing, gory horror, this is a gripping, gruelling and ultimately heartbreaking film, able to shift from darkly funny to utterly horrifying within seconds; the slippery, jumpy sense of time, sequence, and consequence, capturing perfectly the disorientation and dislocation caused by the couple’s escalating drug usage and resulting mental fragmentation. Beautifully played by the two leads, whose inexorable decline from sympathetic, likeable, identifiable characters, into total monsters is both horrifying and heartbreaking, and with maybe a droll nod to Paul Bartel’s classic cannibal satire, EATING RAOUL in the sharply observed characters of Wayne and Wendy, the middle-aged swingers who have the misfortune to cross paths with the drug-crazed newlyweds, this is smart, sharp, cruel filmmaking, utterly unflinching, which grows ever darker and bloodier as it progresses, but anchors its horrors in a really nuanced and entirely believable depiction of a collapsing and toxic relationship. It’s truly a honeymoon in hell.


What I'm expecting: Grimmfest's description of Do Not Disturb as having social satire, gory horror, darkly funny humour and themes of mental fragmentation, made me immediately think of Julia Ducournau's masterpiece of body horror, Raw. Here, Do Not Disturb, it seems, uses Raw's premise to tell a story about toxic relationships and a failing marriage, swapping out Ducournau's coming-of-age tale and adding its own unique twist. It's a great concept, but it's incredibly risky. A good body horror film must be able to connect its graphic violence to the underlying themes of the piece; at its heart, it's about change and transformation. Too many contain just buckets of gore without the character depth and development, or themes being represented through it as if that should be enough to carry the film on its own. It's not. Well-written character development and meaning to the gore are why Raw succeeded where so many others have failed, and that's what John Ainslie (as writer-director) needs to get right. The folks at Grimmfest have said very promising things, which leads me to believe that Ainslie really knows his stuff and has done this right. I have high hopes for this one. I need a full-blooded, practical effects-driven body horror movie to make me squirm in my seat!

 

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