Other Worlds Review: When I Consume You
Childhood trauma attracts dark forces in this supernatural drama
By Richard Whittaker,
3:30PM, Thu. Dec. 9, 2021
Sometimes the only people who can truly understand you are those that went through the same trauma and tragedy as you. So it is with the Shaw kids, Daphne (Libby Ewing) and Wilson (Evan Dumouchel).
Although they are kids no more. At least not legally. Grown, past much of what plagued them as children, their bond is immediate and palpable as they try to fix what was broken. It's how Daphne coaches the shy and introverted Wilson as he works on his application to be a teacher, and how he accompanies her as she is interviewed to become an adopter. But he's too fragile, she's too angry still, and in the opening scenes of Perry Blackshear's supernatural family drama When I Consume You their bond is heartbreakingly expressed.
A thematic and spiritual continuation of writer/director Blackshear's 2015 critical hit They Look Like People (also starring Dumouchel), When I Consume You keys in to the powerful urge of people who were critically wounded in childhood to want to look after other children, even if society marks them as unsuitable. It's that urge to help the other brutalized kid that's always been in the room that binds them together, and Blackshear consummately and kindly weaves together their unhealthy but necessary codependence. After all, without each other, who are they?
But that's exactly what Wilson must discover after a hideous tragedy. The seemingly less stable of the pair is left to stumble through a supernatural mystery that threatens to swallow them both whole.
Dumouchel creates one of the most fascinating studies of a man in collapse since Macon Blair in Blue Ruin, a ghost of a man beset by a real haunting - one depicted in a truly innovative fashion (who knew a hand on a cellphone could be so chilling?). Blackshear's cinematography works with the same muted cold blue tones that have become so common in modern urban indie horror, but with a distinctiveness of edge and image that is only emphasized by his dreamlike editing. But it's in their tension of the combination of the ambient score by Mitch Bain, and the claustrophobia-inducing sound mix, that I Will Consume You rips past so many lo fi horrors and instead forms the burgeoning of a new scene - a neo mumblegore, made up of mood-driven character pieces like Sator and My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell it So. Wilson's world is one beset by brutality, none of it his fault, in a permanent tension between brooding empty spaces and a constant, throbbing rumble on the wind. It's the horror of an empty nighttime alley where noises echo too loud.
Ultimately, When I Consume You is a dark and tender portrayal of two siblings rejected by the world, and none of it's their fault. It's a startling depiction of bonding that will chill you and move you in equal measures.
When I Consume You plays as part of the virtual Other Worlds Film Festival, running through Dec. 12. Passes and info at otherworldsfilmfest.com.