So here we have a very strange, very dreamy French film set in the late 70’s that follows what happens to a group of actors and filmmakers who are being stalked by a psycho-killer. Sounds kind of ordinary, right? Well, when you look at the setting and the characters, things liven up quickly. This is basically a Giallo, where a black-gloved killer is offing folks for weird, wild and bizarre reasons. Only the people he’s killing are part of the Gay community, and his victims are a very particular set of people, ones involved in the Gay Porn industry.
Your mileage on this will vary. If you have a problem with sex between males, you might as well bail right now. There’s lots of that in this film, and while it’s not explicit, it gets very close. There’s also some kissing and sex between women, while we’re at it, but for some reason less people find this upsetting (well, we know the reason, don’t we? And it’s gross). You also have to have a strong stomach, because the murder set-pieces are no joke, and while they don’t bury you in gore, they do fuck with your mind. Oh, and if you can’t get behind the languid pace, and the surrealism that dances at the outer edges of the proceedings, you’re doomed to dislike this. All in all, it’s a very strange little movie that mixes together disparate elements but does so with style and wit and a very nihilistic core.
Anne owns her own Gay porn company and she produces her own films, utilizing a foundational cast that appears in almost everything she makes. She tries to create films with stories and bizarre, artistic touches. She is loved by her crew but she’s also more than a bit erratic and crazy, and when her long-time girlfriend dumps her, she really starts to lose it. Add to the mixtures a close member of their inner circle getting murdered with a blade-filled dildo, and things start to go off the rails. Yeah, you read that right. There’s no sense in holding back here, and that’s the last spoiler you get. Suffice to say that if you can’t stand any kind of sexual violence, you might as well go home now. This movie rivals Maniac and others of its ilk in its depravity. To me, this is the kind of vile sickness that Se7en tried to be and failed at. In any case, there’s a murderer afoot, and he is killing Anne’s friends for convoluted reasons of his own. Think the classic Giallo films, set them in the Gay Porn industry of the late 70’s, change the fetishization from women to men, and you basically have this film. Although there’s a bit more heart here than the usual Giallo shows, as Anne and her friend’s plight is devastating at times.
This film is sleazy in all the right ways and does not pull any punches. If you want a fun romp and a good time, you’ll want to look elsewhere. This is tough, sinewy Horror that will get under your skin and mess with your mind. It’s a bit pretentious in parts (hey, it’s French!) but don’t let that fool you any. Knife+Heart has a lot to say, digging in deep on matters of porn, what it was like being Queer in the late 70’s, on love and relationships and on the price of bigotry and fear. This one does not flinch, but you might.
Knife + Heart available exclusively on Shudder.
Kelly is the author of dozens of stories and dozens of reviews, he likes to write, he likes to read, he likes going to the movies, and he loves to laugh. He hails from the wilds of Kentucky and if you'd like to see more of his work, check out his website: www.kellymhudson.com
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