Bones and All is a horror-romance movie about two young cannibals going on a road trip from Luca Guadagnino, the man that directed Call Me By Your Name, and The Suspiria Remake. That description alone should tell you whether this movie sounds for you.
It’s certainly an odd premise but that film truly makes it work. This is a story filled with contrast, it’s gory and violent yet strangely beautiful and sweet, showing two people that can’t be part of regular life still trying to get by. Bones and All isn’t for everyone but for those that look past the bloody story will find something insightful.
The Need To Feed
The plot of Bones And All starts pretty quickly. A high school girl named Maren (Taylor Russell) sneaks away from her father to go to a slumber party with some friends. They’re having fun, doing each other’s nails, and Maren suddenly starts eating another girl’s finger.
She rushes back home and her dad tells her to pack so they can leave. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Maren has cannibalistic urges that she can’t explain, and after her dad leaves her because he can’t take this lifestyle anymore, she sets out to find her mother who apparently had similar urges. Along the way, she meets another cannibal named Lee (Timothée Chalamet) and the two begin a romance all while learning about the dark culture of feeding on other human beings.
The Culture of Cannibalism
Let’s start off by saying that this is a very slow-burn movie. While the couple has a goal of meeting Maren’s mom, the bulk of the plot is the two simply meandering across the country meeting different people and enjoying each other’s company. It can feel a little aimless at times but that’s sort of the point of the movie. It’s about the journey, not the destination, and seeing the couple grow and introspect about themselves and the world around them is enduring.
The way Cannibalism is portrayed is pretty unique in the movie. It’s shown that some people are just born with an innate need to eat other humans. They can smell others like them and even smell people that are soon going to die. Some of them live by certain codes like never feeding on another “feeder” or not killing, only eating the fresh corpses of those that died naturally.
It’d be easy to go for the slasher route and have the couple be campy villain protagonists but the film actually examines the condition with some nuance. Cannibalism is treated almost like a curse the protagonists have, they need to feed and as a result, will never be able to live a normal life. The protagonists grapple with the fact that they essentially murder, steal and ruin people’s families yet it feels so euphoric and alive when they do. As a viewer you want to feel disgusted by their actions but also sympathize with them as well.
The Lucky Couple
Both leads deliver powerful performances, especially with how uncomfortable the material can be. Taylor Russell gives a lot of humanity to Maren, a kind and loving young girl not knowing how to handle her desire for flesh. She helps humanize the story and also keeps the viewer on edge. At some points, she’s horrified by her actions and wants to control them better, yet at others, she has an almost animalist craving to feed. Both sides are well-written and make the character feel more alive.
On the other hand, is Timothée Chalamet as Lee. He’s a more experienced cannibal, often traveling across America away from his family after an incident with his father. Lee is much more comfortable as a people eater with less issue tasting innocent people when he feels like it. Chalamet shows a lot of range in this role, portraying a more laid-back guy with a lot of inner darkness. You can see him try to advise Maren with her troubles but it’s never easy as he’s got problems of his own.
Despite their messed up dinner dates, the two characters have a very natural and nicely subtle romance. You can see them go from friends to trading to jokes and comments while slowly coming closer together. It’s very cute and believable, especially as they open up to each other about their insecurities. That’s usually the hardest part of any relationship and it’s given the weight to make it impactful.
The final character worth mentioning is another older cannibal they meet named Sully. I can’t say much about him but Mark Rylance doe a great job of being a helpful yet incredibly creepy mentor, epitomizing the most extreme traits of the cannibal lifestyle. You’ll be holding your breath every time he’s on screen.
Horrific Yet Beautiful
The best way I can describe the visual and sound design of the movie is that it’s serenely grotesque. Chalamet is known for being quite the heartthrob yet half of the time he’s seen with ripped-up clothes and covered in dirt or blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from being pretty.
This extends to other aspects of the film as well. All of the cannibals in fact are pretty grimy and unhinged in appearance, teetering on the edge between regular people and something far more monstrous. The set design again consists of run-down, dark housing and grey skies but when the sun shines through, it’s treated as warm. Soundwise there are also many soft slow tunes played even at the most sickening of scenes in terms of violence.
It’s a fascinating contrast that gives the film a unique atmosphere. It can switch between quiet romantic fluff to grim death scenes in a matter of minutes yet it still feels consistent. It all fits in with the theme of finding happiness even in the evilest of actions. Not a lot of movies can pull that off yet this movie does it great.
Bones and All
Bones and All is not a film for everyone. It’s a unique fusion of a coming-of-age romance and psychological horror that might rub some people the wrong way. The romance scenes may be too slow for horror fans and the horror scenes may be too graphic for romance fans.
With that being said, I think the movie not only makes it work but provides a creative psychological horror. It’s really the story of an outcast struggling to remain on the fringes of society, knowing they have the potential to snap at any time. The portrayal of the cannibal lifestyle is made fascinating while never being glamorized and the chemistry between the leads working around this struggle is well-written. If your looking for a more experimental, surprisingly insightful romance, and can stomach a little horror, Bones and All is a bloody, well-baked recipe that’s worth a taste.
|Beautifully grotesque cinematography||Pacing might be a little too slow for some people|
|The main couple are well written and acted|
|A unique take on cannibalism|
Bones and All is premier in Malaysia on the 24th of November.