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Let the Corpses Tan (Fantastic Fest Review)

Let the Corpses Tan (Fantastic Fest Review)
10.02.2017by: Eric Walkuski
7 10

PLOT: A group of criminals encounter a pair of dogged police officers after pulling off a daring gold heist somewhere along the Mediterranean coast.

REVIEW: LET THE CORPSES TAN is a movie that is meant for the eyes and ears, not the heart. That is to say, its true purpose is to dominate us with visual stimulants and aural overload, and little is given to us in the way of anything else. The film's directors have fetishes, many of them tied into the worlds of Italian giallos, 70s Euro crime thrillers and spaghetti westerns. Chief among their interests: Leather, gun metal, heavy breathing, sun-baked vistas, naked women, S&M, sweat, vague religious symbolism... you get the idea. If you share any of these fetishes, or simply have an affinity for the aforementioned genres, then by all means soak in the craziness that is LET THE CORPSES TAN. If style over substance bothers you, or you're overly sensitive to movies that are so in-your-face they're drooling in your lap, it's a safe bet this one will have you begging for mercy before long, because it is 90 minutes of over-the-top European mayhem.

Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani are the helmers of this sordid piece of insanity. After two films that sent out similar vibes - AMER and THE STRANGE COLOUR OF YOUR BODY'S TEARS - LET THE CORPSES TAN sees the duo once again plumb the depths of their fixations with a vengeance. Every frame is an overly-stylized painting, every sound is either a portentous whisper or frenzied bang. It's like Cattet and Forzani has seen every spaghetti western ever made and thought it was their duty to dial every element up to 11, so that the faintest sliver of a story exists in a sea of dizzying, hallucinatory imagery. Captivating us with character details or plot could not be less important to the directors; what matters is the sensuality they find in the violence and overall immorality of their situation.

The plot, such as it is, involves a handful of sleazy crooks who pull off a robbery somewhere along the Mediterranean coast. Grabbing an impressive cache of gold bars, the crew retreats to an isolated house overseen by a mysterious woman and her lover. The crooks are joined by two women and a child they run into during their escape and, eventually, a couple of determined police officers who manage to track them down. Thus begins a stand off that lasts almost a day, as every individual attempts to navigate the situation and not get themselves killed.

I've probably made it sound like there is more going on in it than there is, at least from a story perspective. That's the bare bones of it, and Cattet and Forzani don't elaborate much beyond that. Sometimes it's confusing to figure out how everyone actually knows each other, who is double-crossing whom, where everyone is in relation to each other as things unfold and become increasingly manic. Whether this is intentional or not is hard for me to say but, to be sure, the directors shoot these events in such a way as to hypnotize us with their style while blinding us to what the hell is actually going on. In a way, it doesn't matter if we understand it or not, because Cattet and Forzani want only to stimulate us on quite superficial levels. (I'm sure if they could have added "Smell O Vision," they would have been happy to make us sniff every bit of the sweat, leather and grime on display.)

Do they succeed in their mission? I would have to say they do. Taken on its own terms, LET THE CORPSES TAN is definitely an effective piece of work, and even if I wasn't very connected to any of the characters, I was still captivated by everything they were doing and seeing. It could be argued that there isn't a single boring visual in the film, as the directors have taken great care to ensure it's an eyeful every step of the way. Even as my head was reeling, I was still always fascinated by how hard the filmmakers were working to put on a show with their battery of uncanny images and sounds. I respect what they've created, even though I would recommend LET THE CORPSES TAN to only a small number of filmgoers, the kind who are enamored with arthouse violence and minimal restraint. I may not have known what exactly I was watching in the theater, but plenty of it has stuck with me since.

Extra Tidbit: LET THE CORPSES TAN is still doing the festival rounds.

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