Nocebo (2022)

Nocebo (2022)

An audacious disease thriller with some political bite

7.1

Movie

Ireland, Philippines
English, Spanish, Tagalog
Horror, Mystery, Thriller
2022
LORCAN FINNEGAN
Anthony Falcon, Billie Gadsdon, Cathy Belton
96 min

TLDR

Say hello to your newly acquired fear of ticks.

What it's about

Christine (Eva Green) is a fashion designer torn between her career and motherhood, the manifestation of that struggle being a mysterious illness with aggravating symptoms and only an equally mysterious Filipino woman can cure it.

The take

Irish director Lorcan Finnegan's follow-up to the social dystopia Vivarium, too, centers around the trials and tribulations of a nuclear family. Overwhelmed by work and struck by an inexplicable disease, Christine (played by Eva Green) seems to have forgotten she employed a caretaker for her daughter Bobs. The plot thickens when a Filipino woman named Diana rings the door bell: what kind of mother forgets something like that? What follows is as nightmarish as it sounds, the film's visual potency summoning one's deepest fears and anxieties about reality slipping away. Green and Chai Fonacier (Diana) play an exquisite game of cat and mouse, but even the psychological thrill of that chase is not significant enough to overthrow the dubious racial politics at play. By the end, Nocebo makes an effort to position itself on the right side of history, but the power of its political critique wanes and wanes.

What stands out

Lorcan Finnegan has a particularly cinematic way of rendering white middle class anxieties palpable working with a toned-down color palette and close-ups on props, textures, and architecture for a truly claustrophobic feel. Nocebo confines the horrors within a family home, its walls and corridors soaked with dread. Additionally, the film doesn't rely on traditional jump scares to bring these fears to life, instead, the camera lingers, contaminated by Christine's hypersensitivity — a result of her strange illness. A haunted house and a haunted family, a bad dream you can't seem to wake up from, as terrifying as it is visually stunning.

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