Nocebo

Lorcan Finnegan’s cathartic fable about capitalist parasitism is vivid, anguished, and nightmarish.

BY

EDITOR’S NOTE: This review first appeared in the horror newsletter Deep Cuts on June 24, 2023. It’s being cross-published as part of the upkeep of our writing archive, including that of the writer of this review.

SOMETHING’S AMISS ABOUT CHRISTINE. Unusually gaunt in appearance and remarkably distraught in mind, she seems unable to determine what sickness afflicts her. Somewhere, buried in the recesses of her mind, lies the answer. It gnaws inside her. A tick is drilling viciously from within, a parasite she catches from a half-burnt canine she encounters, crimson-eyed and hellish-looking. She knows what’s making her sick, but she doesn’t want to remember.

This lends a backbone for Nocebo‘s horrors. From the outset, director Lorcan Finnegan makes his vision clear: To craft a vivid, red-eyed, and nightmarish fable about the foulness of Western greed and ignorance. Gone are the ambiguities of Vivarium, his previous film. Instead, the horror roots from something unmistakable and plain…good ol’ revenge: To inflict the brunt of the burns the oppressed have had to bear.

It’s a film as unsettling as it is cathartic, anchored, no doubt, by Chai Fonacier’s magnetic performance as Diana, a true overseas Filipino “mangkukulam,” out to exact vengeance on Christine, a children’s apparel mogul whose manufacturing practices rest a few notches below H&M Kids. Christine is played by Eva Green, who, in this film, becomes a subhuman shell of anxiety and fraught, yet strangely unaware of the backs that her red stilettos walk on.

Nocebo shares space with other thrillers criticizing class and capitalism. Where his contemporaries opt to poke fun (and, in the case of Robert Ostlünd in Triangle of Sadness, literally defecate) on the filthy rich, Finnegan takes a grim and determined position: to unmask the real parasites for who they are and take great delight in watching them burn.


Nocebo

2023 | Horror, Thriller | dir. Lorcan Finnegan

A fashion designer hires a nanny from the Philippines to assist her in caring for her family while she is suffering from what she believes is a tick-related illness. The nanny uses traditional Filipino folk healing techniques to help her, but in the process of doing so, she uncovers a horrifying truth about why she is there and why her employer is actually sick.

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