Dir: Patrick Kennelly, 2015
A slightly different entry into the ‘body horror’ genre, Excess Flesh is a horror about food and it’s…an acquired taste.
Jill (Bethany Orr) is plain looking with body weight issues and lives with her beautiful and sexually promiscuous flatmate, Jennifer (Mary Loveless).
Personality wise, they are chalk and cheese. Jennifer is rude, ignorant and bitchy, yet confident. Popular with guys, she thinks nothing of bringing random men home for loud sex, much to the dismay of Jill.
Jill is shy, timid and suffers with low self-esteem with an unhealthy obsession towards food.
Insanely jealous of Jennifer, Jill yearns to be just like her but is constantly put down by her slim and pretty roommate.
Slipping slowly deeper into madness, Jill finally snaps and chains Jennifer up, mentally torturing her.
It could be taken as an interpretation of society’s obsession with food and desire to have the perfect body.
But, ultimately, it’s just a new take on torture porn.
The two leads in the film are absolutely superb.
Orr is just spot on as the deranged and disturbed Jill. Beginning as a downtrodden girl with mental health problems and, later, cackling and laughing, maniacally with a sudden twist to anger, Bethany Orr has an impressive range of emotions that she can, ably, convey.
Loveless can emit an aura of selfishness and nastiness, that perfectly contradicts Orr’s introverted, unbalanced character.
In this respect, Mary Loveless hasn’t a great deal of emotion to portray but does fantastic as a spoilt girl, relying on her looks for everything.
Ironically, the characters are oil and water but, together, they’re a perfect elixir.
Kennelly has chosen not to go overboard with the gross-out factor and decided to use more psychological terror.
It’s a food fetishist’s dream with lingering, slow-motion close-ups of the two girls eating.
There is a major flaw, though. The film is strewn with plot holes and inconsistencies.
Jill doesn’t have a job but is still able to buy an infinite amount of food. She also doesn’t leave the house so where did she get the food from?
Nobody seems to care about her severe lack of personal hygiene or the state of the flat. Despite not washing, she never has greasy hair.
My missus put it very succinctly with, “she’s a scuzzy bitch, anyway!”. Go, girl power!
Kennelly doesn’t quite have the handle of psychological horror. It isn’t fully explained what exactly is going on her head. I got the impression that Jennifer was in her head all along.
Looking at it from this angle, this would explain why nobody seems to hear her screams or the police officers disregard to Jennifer’s dishevelled state.
Why does Jennifer suddenly have the energy to muster a scream for help in the flat but is, practically, catatonic when the police investigate? Something doesn’t quite make sense.
Maybe, Kennelly deliberately left the film ambiguous but he can’t pull it off like Kubrick. What was the ending about? Was Jennifer a model? Nothing is specifically spelt out and had these issues been addressed, a much more coherent and, ultimately, satisfying film could have been had.
It’s definitely worth a watch but just don’t expect too much.