Inside The Film Room is covering the 25th edition of Fantasia International Film Festival with reviews of all the latest genre films.
Perry Blackshear is no stranger to the horrors and thrills of Fantasia Fest. The writer-director took home the award for Most Innovative Feature at the Fest back in 2015 with “They Look Like People,” and now he has returned with a new haunting film.
Blending family drama with supernatural horror and a revenge narrative, “When I Consume You” does its best to find fear in everyday life, but the results are a meandering, overly complex dud – and the film isn’t as all-consuming as it hopes.
While the film’s log line teases a fairly simple plot, saying “A woman and her brother seek revenge against a mysterious stalker,” the real story is far more intricate.
Daphne (Libby Ewing) and Wilson Shaw (Evan Dumouchel) are a down on their brother and sister struggling to make ends meet. Between substance abuse, unemployment and a general lacking of a sense of purpose, the pair has always felt haunted, particularly Daphne. But when Wilson returns home one day to find his sister dead from an apparent overdose, things turn even darker than ever before. Refusing to believe his sister would do this to herself, Wilson goes looking for revenge on the real culprit – a demon who has been stalking the family for their entire lives.
What ensues is a night spent wandering the city streets with Wilson and his sister’s ghost intermittently facing off against the demon, until the confrontations culminate in one giant twist ending.
As the film dives into the intricacies of the siblings’ relationship as well as the demon’s past preying on them, it loses quite a bit of steam. Advertised as a slow-burn, “When I Consume You” certainly fits the first part of that billing, but the fire never seems to give off enough heat. Instead, the over-extended exposition and meandering narrative feels as if the film is simply wasting time until the inevitable final confrontation. There’s certainly a promising premise buried within “When I Consume You,” however the presentation here makes it feel as if an 11-minute short film could have told the story in a far more compelling manner.
When it comes to the details of the demon, its origins and abilities, don’t expect too many answers. No film wants to telegraph its secrets to viewers with too much simplicity, but being overly complex for the sake of being overly complex is an even greater sin. It’s even more difficult to look past this aspect of “When I Consume You” when fellow Fantasia Fest selection “The Night House” tackles a similar premise with far more precision.
Ultimately, “When I Consume You” doesn’t live up to the ambition it sets out to achieve, due to an unnecessarily convoluted storyline and lackluster pacing and plot.
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Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.