Nocebo , 2022
Directed by Lorcan Finnegan.
With Eva Green, Mark Strong, Chai Fonacier, Katie Belton and Billy Gadsdon.
A fashion designer suffers from a mysterious illness that confuses her doctors and frustrates her husband until help arrives from a Filipino caregiver using traditional home remedies to uncover the horrible truth.
At the beginning of Lorcan Finnegan's delightfully culturally significant but slightly aberrant Nocebo , Eva Green meets or hallucinates Christine, a successful children's clothing designer who looks like a dead dog covered in ticks. Real or imagined exposure to the parasite left Kristin with many side effects: uncontrollable jitters in her shoulder, short-term memory loss, migraines, and more.
Needless to say, her career is on hold and her life has practically come to a standstill, making it difficult for her and her often overworked husband Felix (Mark Strong) to find time to date. his student Roberta (friends nicknamed Bobs, played by Billy Gaddon).
To the rescue comes Diana (Chai Fonacie), a Filipina nanny who doesn't remember what she hired. It is also revealed that Diana can take care of Bobs (who is often rude and disrespectful, not too eager for anyone else to interfere as a mother) and clean the house; He is also an expert in mystical healing techniques that give Christine quick results and take her away from conventional medicine.
A lot of this is based on Filipino folklore, where Diana tells a supernatural story that we, like Christina, aren't sure we believe. Felix is also becoming increasingly suspicious of these experiences, helplessly caught up in the dynamic.
The script by Gareth Shanley (a frequent collaborator with Lorcan Finnegan, who worked with him on the excellent suburban nightmare thriller Vivarium ) can move quickly, delving into culture-specific themes and introducing aspects of folklore with grim arrests of healing or revenge. While it's not hard to figure out what's going on in Nocebo (lots of hand wringing, one character creates a metaphor), the patient approach allows the character to get the spotlight he deserves. Radek Ladchuk's photographs also deftly and cleverly frame the characters, thus bridging class differences.
There are many memories from Diana's homeland that remind her of her family life, including the age of her husband and daughter Bob. This makes the class elements of the story more tangible outside of the endgame. At the same time, folklore is treated in greater depth, ensuring that the filmmakers respect this culture after presenting the gory aspects.
Deviations are easy to spot, though, and even at 97 minutes , Nocebo feels overwrought at times, leaving viewers waiting for the inevitable reveal. But social horror effectively focuses on these characters and the unacceptable situations that are shown. Chai Fonassier is also in complete control of Diana's character, measured and nuanced, perfect for both dramatic and horror beats.
Eva Green has a more brilliant performance about breakdowns and the inability to separate fact from fantasy. The horrors are refreshingly reminiscent of Filipino folklore and are visually realized with twisted imagination.
Flickering Myths Rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Coder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Association. He is also the editor of the Flickering Myth Review. Read new reviews here, follow the news on Twitter or Letterboxd, or write to [email protected].