KnifeHeart Poster

KNIFE+HEART (2018) – Boston Underground Film Festival

Set against the porn industry, gay porn to be exact, in 1970’s Paris Knife+Heart has been described as William Friedkin’s Cruising, if Dario Argento had directed it instead. And that certainly has a lot of truth to it, even if some scenes reminded me a bit more of Bava, be it Mario or Lamberto. But while his film wears its influences on its sleeve, writer/director Yann Gonzalez (You And The Night) has his own spin to put on the film.

Anne (Vanessa Paradis, The Return of James Battle) is in a state of crisis. Her relationship with now ex-girlfriend Lois (Kate Moran) has come to an end, mostly due to Anne’s drinking. Making matters worse, Lois was also her editor, assembling the footage she shoots into low budget gay porn films.

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But worse is to come. Someone has started killing off her actors. While the police aren’t interested in helping it does give her the idea for her next film, Homocidial. And in grand giallo tradition, try to track down the killer herself.

Also in giallo tradition, the kills are works of beauty. The first murder, cringe-inducingly brutal but lit in a comic book shade of red. Another highlight is an outdoor killing in the woods just as the rain begins pouring from a sunny sky. It’s an incredibly well-composed and shot sequence, cinematographer Simon Beaufils deserves a lot of the credit for the success of Knife+Heart. He really recaptures the look of the original films.

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I do wish the script had given us more of Anne’s backstory. How did a lesbian come to be a maker of gay men’s porn? It’s an unlikely seeming career path and one that probably would have made an interesting tale. The killer’s backstory is, of course, rooted in horrible events that occurred many years ago. Horrible enough in this case that once everything was explained I actually felt somewhat sorry for him.

A visual treat and neat LGBTQ switch on the giallo, Knife+Heart may not be as suspenseful as the films that inspired it, but it is a nice update on the theme.

Altered Innocence is giving Knife+Heart a festival and limited theatrical run ahead of an eventual DVD/VOD release. I saw it as part of this year’s Boston Underground Film Festival. You can check for other showings on the company’s website.

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