(director/writer: Jen Soska/Sylvia Soska; screenwriter: story by John Serge/John Serge; cinematographer: Kim Derko; editor: Erin Deck; music: Claude Foisy; cast: Laura Vandervoort (Rose), Benjamin Hollingsworth (Brad Hart), C.M. Punk (Billy), Ted Atherton (Dr. William Burroughs), Hanneke Talbot (Chelsea), Mackenzie Gray (Gunter), Stephen McHattie (Dr. Keloid), Kevin Hanchard (Dr. Riley), Stephen Huszar (Dominic), Sylvia Soska (Bey), Jen Soska (Ellie), Greg Bryk (Director); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: John Vidette, Paul Lalonde, Michael Walker; Shout! Factory; 2019-Canada)
“It’s lesser Cronenberg, but with a better lead actress.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A homage remake (using only the core idea) of the iconic 1977 David Cronenberg cult horror film by the cheeky Soska twin sisters (“American Mary”/”Dead Hooker in a Trunk”). It rails against inadequate health care treatment and offers a savage satire that rips into the fashion industry for its falseness. The sisters co-wrote the movie with John Serge.
The insecure, vegan Rose (Laura Vandervoort) is a fashion designer with blemished skin who yearns to succeed in high fashion. Chelsea (Hanneke Talbot) plays a model and Rose’s best friend and roommate. Irritated at her arrogant and oily pretentious aesthete fashion industry boss, Gunter (Mackenzie Gray), for reprimanding her for being tardy, she sulks. That evening Rose attends a Montreal night club but leaves in a rage when in the rest room she overhears her workplace colleagues (the Soska sisters) insult her as weird and sad for having splotches on her face. She then gets into a freak motorcycle accident after leaving the club in disgust and ends up being disfigured with a protruding jaw. To correct it, the city hospital doctor (Stephen McHattie) refers his uninsured patient to the experimental research clinic physician Dr. William Burroughs (Ted Atherton). He’s seen listening to tapes of the other William Burroughs talking about vampire lore. Burroughs performs the radical medical procedure (stem cell manipulation) and the clinic agrees to cover all medical expenses. The risky treatment leaves Rose looking beautiful like a rose and feeling stronger, but also results in some side effects that bring on an insatiable appetite for human blood. It seems Rose because of the unsafe procedure has contacted some form of vampire-like bloodlust.
With her new fashionable look and new fierce outlook, Gunter allows her to develop clothing designs for his “Schadenfreude” collection. Meanwhile Rose goes full-scale vampire and rips out the jugulars of the toxic male night-club attendee (CM Punk) and of a vain soap opera star (Stephen Huszar) who is a patient at the clinic.
It mixes scare scenes with gross-out comic ones, and it seems better suited as a grindhouse sleazy film than a classic horror film. Vandervoort makes for a sympathetic vulnerable Rose character, while her hunky photographer love interest, Brad Hart (Benjamin Hollingsworth), makes for an idealized romantic partner.
The pic works best when showing the mutilated Rose dealing with her new strengths and wrestling with issues of self-image (which might be what the pic is all about). It’s lesser Cronenberg, but with a better lead actress.
REVIEWED ON 12/24/2019 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/