Fantasia Film Festival Review: When I Consume You (2021)

Featured image: Libby Ewing and Evan Dumouchel in When I Consume You. (Courtesy of Fantasia.)

Directed by Perry Blackshear. Written by Perry Blackshear. Starring Libby Ewing, Evan Dumouchel, MacLeod Andrews. Runtime 1h 32 min. When I Consume You had its World Premiere on August 18, 2021 at the Fantasia Film Festival.

The first 20 minutes of Perry Blackshear’s When I Consume You immediately catches our attention. It throws us into something unsettling as one of the film’s main characters, Daphne (Libby Ewing) is pulling a tooth from her mouth, emotionally distraught in a bathroom. It has our attention, and even if we couldn’t exactly tell what this would be about 20 minutes in, I didn’t mind.

That’s part of the fun, not being able to tell the direction where a film will be going. And in these first 20 minutes especially, Blackshear’s script subverts expectations in a memorable way, which I won’t spoil. And I don’t want to spoil too much about this film as it does feel so unpredictable, so the basic logline and premise is that a pair of siblings, younger sister Daphne and older brother Wilson (Evan Dumouchel), aim to get revenge on a mysterious stalker. The film does maintain that unpredictable edge throughout the film, where only around the 45-minute mark is where we really know what type of film this is.

I’ll note that it’s a very unique revenge horror, thriller and drama hybrid. It’s also a powerful drama about two siblings. Learning about their background and how they’ve always been tethered together, and how Daphne would usually be the one to protect Wilson, is an interesting dynamic. They have a great bond, one that is tested, as well, as Wilson has a fascinating arc, growing as a person from the protected to trying to be the protector. The part of his character where he indulges in a fantasy world to escape living in the real world – something I found very relatable – is effectively written. The chemistry between the two stars works well, too.

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Evan Dumouchel and Libby Ewing in When I Consume You. (Courtesy of Fantasia.)

Like The Last Thing Mary Saw at this year’s fest, this is a film that stands very well on its own as a powerful drama about a pair of siblings, while also having very strong horror elements. I won’t spoil what subgenre of horror this is other than just saying it’s a unique revenge story, but I’ll say it’s as exciting as it strange at times.

One of the best aspects is how much this feels like a hardened New York crime film, mostly because of the cinematography and tone. Perry Blackshear’s cinematography is beautiful here, especially in the night scenes as he captures a part of New York that’s more grimy, but beautiful and unique all the same. It’s not a neighbourhood that you’ll see in a film that heavily features New York, and that is one aspect that helps set When I Consume You apart.

I mentioned Blackshear as cinematographer. In true indie fashion he directs, writes, produces and edits the film, on top of his work with the cinematography. Even with all these hats on, it doesn’t feel like any of these aspects lose any muster because he’s focusing on something else. He can focus on the technical aspects; while also directing his stars to great performances.

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A still from When I Consume You. (Courtesy of Fantasia.)

I’m sure it helps that his three stars (also including MacLeod Andrews) are also producers on the film, which must be so integral. Both Ewing and Dumouchel are both strong in the emotional aspects and crime aspects of the film, as well as the genre elements of course, but Andrews puts in a different kind-of performance. It’s a layered performance with many sides to it. He has a very different dynamic with the pair of siblings, and that must be interesting to play as Andrews and Dumouchel have worked together on Blackshear’s other two feature films (They Look Like People and The Siren). For Ewing, too, her character has a lot of variety.

Score: 75/100

When I Consume You had its premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival on Wednesday, August 18, and will be playing again tomorrow morning, August 20, at 9:00 a.m. with a 24-hour viewing window. If you’re in Canada, you can find tickets here.

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