HYBRISTOPHILIA ** USA 2018 Dir: Romane Simon. 74 mins
Writer Rhonnie Fordham, director Romane Simon and Russian actress Lilian Lev reteam from BLOOD RUNS THICK with this ambitious riff on serial killer movie conventions. The opening is conventional slasher territory, albeit with an uncommon same-sex, mixed-race pair of vlogging lovers who promise “paranormal fornication” while in search of hits and ad revenue during their stay at a murder house in Stanwyck, Georgia (watermelon capital of the world). Aborted sex and an underwear-clad, ill-fated woodland chase follow. Subsequently, a TV news crew receive an invitation to meet a prolific serial killer (known, underwhelmingly, as The Sleepy Stalker) at the same house that, twenty years earlier, was host to a murder-suicide. Most of the unusually named HYBRISTOPHILIA (look it up) consists of an extended dialogue between pregnant forensic psychiatrist Sadie Katz and Lilian Lev’s verbose psychopath – continuing the long-term influence of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter novels. The Sleepy Stalker, who has previously sent severed heads to The Times, claims 127 kills and sports black lipstick, red hair and a crimson cloak that fleetingly presents a visual echo of THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES. It’s a shame the script falls into cliché and the movie is bogged down by Katz’s weak performance, because Lev is a striking, embittered presence while being interrogated about her modus operandi, sexuality and gender-neutral mask. In a neat touch, she is spooked by rumours that her old house is haunted because it would suggest her parents are back from the dead. Lev’s work proves the highlight of a dialogue-driven picture let down by one-note secondary characters.
Review by Steven West