You’ll Be Full of Dread and Darkness When I Consume You (PANIC)
Title: When I Consume You
First Non-Festival Release: TBD
Director: Perry Blackshear
Writer: Perry Blackshear
Runtime: 92 Minutes
Starring: Libby Ewing, Evan Dumouchel, MacLeod Andrews
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Panic Film Festival in 2022.
Daphne (Libby Ewing) and Wilson (Evan Dumouchel) are haunted by the demons of their past. Forced to grow up at a young age, the two look out for each other after the foster system failed to protect them from the harshness of life. Trying to re-establish themselves as stable and promising parental figures, they try their hands at adopting a child to save them from the life they had. After they are denied, Daphne is attacked by a mysterious stalker. What happens next sets off a chain of events that threaten to destroy the siblings in life and in death.
A sleepy horror mystery, When I Consume You personifies the demons inside you with little fanfare.
Another commentary on how addiction leads to ruin, When I Consume You adds little to this setup in horror that hasn’t already been done. The darkness that Daphne and Wilson are subjected to throughout their lives is heart wrenching but the portrayal of mental illness as a demonic presence isn’t enough anymore to take a stab at the commentary. From a tone perspective, the film is depressingly dark and unforgiving, but the story doesn’t help its message stand out in any way.
At times, the story gets a bit lost in its own metaphors and musings on trauma that it forgets about its overarching story. This comes to play specifically with the spirituality involved. The audience is left wondering how the rituals come into play with the film or why it is necessary to the plot. It seems silly after the first hour being a more grounded horror mystery to suddenly shift gears into something more out of left field. Even still, the demonic angle can still be included without the clunky origin story. The constant influx of shifting timelines does the film no favors in establishing its plot. It hurts the film especially with how it is interspersed within the narrative. Little care seems to be done to intentionally include where it makes most sense, or if it is necessary to add at all.
Bright additions to the film, Libby Ewing and Evan Dumouchel are great in their respective roles. Their chemistry is palpable, and they truly bring out the best and worst of each other, very much like a brother-sister duo who grew up the way they did. Dumouchel’s vocal and physical choices are especially excellent. Watching Wilson transform from the shy and dorky man child at the beginning to the fearless solider at the end is incredible. If only Ewing was given the same opportunity to mold Daphne. Her spark comes out when she gets to lean into the protective older sister role, which is appropriate for Daphne’s place in the story.
Unlike the consistency of its story, the filmmaking itself gets choppy at times. Shaky cam is over utilized and makes for some eye rolling sequences that look more confused than anything. Otherwise, the film has a dull, muted color pallet without any respite. This works in the films favor as it fits within the central metaphor of the Shaws. Their life is difficult and without much happiness; having the film brighter in any way would betray that sentiment.
Despite its excellent leads, When I Consume You feels tired and worn. Its central premise has been overdone in horror and this film offers very little in terms of breaking new ground. Unwise writing decisions like bouncing from timeline to timeline so frequently in awkwardly places scenes. It wins major points for a well-developed brother-sister relationship that is genuinely compelling. The leads do great work shaping their characters into real people while the writing allows them to flourish into fuller and three-dimensional versions of themselves. While it isn’t exactly my cup of tea, you find it necessary to consume this demonic chiller once it gets a full release.
Overall Score? 5/10