We all have our personal demons. From addictions to self-destructive behaviour, these demons can be hard to escape once they get their claws into you. What if they are more than just personal problems, and something more mysterious and supernatural are behind them? This is the concept at the core of When I Consume You, the new Horror Mystery from director/writer Perry Blackshear.
Set in modern-day New York, Daphne Shaw (Libby Ewing) and her brother Wilson Shaw (Evan Dumouchel) are struggling to get by. They have both suffered from countless issues in their lives but are looking to turn things around. From trying for an adoption, to looking to get a better job, they are pushing to make the best of the hands they are dealt. This is until Wilson finds his sister Daphne dead in her apartment.
With his sister gone, Wilson looks to find meaning in life, along with the reason behind her senseless death. Knowing this was not a simple overdose, he goes on a quest to take revenge on the person who caused the death. He plans to get to the root of Daphne’s struggles, and who the mysterious stalker that seemed to plague her life really was.
Quickly moving from a story of family loss, into something more paranormal, When I Consume You is filled with many ideas, including demons, occult rituals, and soul eating. It is a tall order for a low budget film, and I would love to say it nailed the landing despite the limitations.
The cinematography in When I Consume You is fantastic and gives you a sense of the struggles and loss the characters are facing. From the close angles and claustrophobic shots of the apartment to the jaw dropping night scenes, this is a film that opens the camera to the viewer, giving a sense of the pain and trauma that can only be experienced firsthand.
“There is a lot to like with When I Consume You, but the structural issues hold it back.”
The night imagery gives a sinister look to the streets of New York. Darkly beautiful, but full of danger, the city acts as a character in its own right, working to isolate Wilson while giving a glimpse at how lonely he really is.
Evan Dumouchel also is a standout aspect of the movie. His struggles and pain are visible in every frame. From the melancholy feeling of being isolated and scared, to finally overcoming his demons, Dumouchel shows himself to be truly frightening when needed. Without the actor’s performance, the emotional center of the film would have been lost. Libby Ewing’s portrayal of Daphne Shaw is also a strong point to the film, stuck in a tormented sense of wanting to overcome while being sucked back by her own demons. Moving from joyful to somber in a naturalistic way, her performance gives a sense of the duality of overcoming what you once were.
There was a lot to like with how Perry Blackshear let us into these tormented siblings’ lives, but ultimately the budget held this film back from being something truly great. While I love the concept of personal demons being a literal threat, the execution took much of the menace away. There are some things that work on a low budget, and sadly, this finale was not one of them.
Beyond that, the mix of supernatural and the mundane did not find the right balance to actually work. The hyper-real nature of the introduction, and the cheesy nature of the ending took away much of the power first presented. Films like the Babadook take on this concept and exceed all expectations. Somehow here, the director showed a bit too much of the evil at the heart of the issue and it takes away much of the power, leaving it feeling lifeless.
There is a lot to like with When I Consume You, but the structural issues hold it back. Perry Blackshear has some amazing ideas he wants to tell, and if he can push past these barriers I could see something amazing coming from him in the near future. As it stands now, When I Consume You misses the mark, but does so much right it is well worth the watch for the first half alone. If you have the opportunity, give When I Consume You a watch, just be prepared for a sub-par finale.