SXSW ’15: Exclusive teaser trailer, director comments for body-horror film “EXCESS FLESH”Movies/TV,News Michael Gingold
Among the genre films in the Midnighters lineup of this month’s SXSW Film Festival, EXCESS FLESH is one that bids fair to really get under your skin. We’ve got an exclusive first look at the teaser trailer, plus words from the filmmaker.
EXCESS FLESH, premiering Friday, March 13 at SXSW (see screening details here), is the first feature by Patrick Kennelly, who is known for his socially/culturally aware and sometimes quite horrific video and theater projects. The synopsis certainly suggests a marriage of these concerns: “Jill is obsessed with her new roommate Jennifer, a promiscuous and sexy hotshot in the LA fashion scene. New to the city and recently single, Jill is unable to keep up as she binges and purges to stay thin; eventually hating herself and everyone around her. Her jealousy and rage spiral out of control—Jennifer has everything, and Jill wants to be just like her. If Jill can’t be Jennifer, she must destroy her.”
“All the projects I initiate begin from a conceptual place,” Kennelly tells Fango. “With EXCESS FLESH, it was originally about making a horror movie with the tropes and style of sitcoms and romcoms. These are the genres I actually find the most scary! Of course, during the construction of a work—everything after that initial conceptualization—you start to understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, etc.”
Although the basic premise suggests a synthesis of SINGLE WHITE FEMALE and STARRY EYES (with the latter’s composer, Jonathan Snipes, on board for the music and sound design), Kennelly notes that he hasn’t seen EYES and adds, “I would say it’s akin to the psychological horror and claustrophobia of works like Roman Polanski’s REPULSION and Todd Haynes’ SAFE.” The story, he reveals, came from a personal place: “While putting EXCESS FLESH together, I was having intense feelings of emptiness and loneliness being in Los Angeles after 12 years. To me, Los Angeles is unbelievably expansive, and this expanse can become very isolating. That’s when your mind starts playing tricks on you. I’ve since recognized that I have an ongoing interest in how social and cultural forces shape personal identity, and how this all gets entangled with the self-deceptive inner-workings of the mind. So this conceptual project became a personal one that I can now analyze as making sense in the context of everything else I’ve done.”
Living in LA, where the glamour of the entertainment world masks the cutthroat quest for success, fed into the film’s creation in other ways as well. “Every absurd, horrifying, hilarious and horrible thing in EXCESS FLESH cycles back to either specific research and/or experiences and people myself and my co-writer, Sigrid Gilmer, have known,” Kennelly says. “I believe the movie is ultimately a reflection of the prison of the self. How does one occupy that prison? Through addiction, obsession, delusion, through a distorted projection of the self that one can simultaneously idealize and castigate. It’s pretty brutal, but I believe there is a certain transcendence at the end. Whether that transcendence is a positive thing or not, I don’t know.
“Now, if any of these ideas come through to people,” he continues, “I’ll be supremely satisfied, but ultimately, it’s an entertainment. I think people can ride with the twists and turns of the story, without taking away anything beyond that! As long as they feel they’ve had a worthwhile experience for one hour and 43 minutes, I will have accomplished my job.”