French horror film Knife+Heart (2018) is deep, thought-provoking, and worth putting aside any reservations you might have about subtitled movies.
Plenty of films from all over the world are worth watching, and foreign horror always has a different flavour – don’t deprive yourself of what can be a fantastic watch.
(Major spoilers and discussion of sexual violence ahead.)
Knife+Heart isn’t as talked about as it should be.
The film follows two queer women who produce and direct gay porn and suddenly find their actors are being murdered.
Set in Paris during 1979, it truly transports the viewer to that time.
The relationship between the two women is fractured from the beginning.
Anne (Vanessa Paradis) is an alcoholic, and her ex Lois (Kate Moran) makes it clear during a phone call that it’s over.
This queer tragedy never stops, with Anne’s recklessness seeping into her work, putting her (mostly queer) employees in danger, and later resulting in the death of Lois.
Anne’s behavior goes from lightly problematic to disturbing.
At one point, she sexually assaults Lois, causing her to sever ties firmly in a letter, but Anne does not respect her wishes.
Anne’s problematic nature rests solely on her being a broken person, not her queerness.
Where the killer is concerned, he’s a disturbed individual.
He wears a leather mask and makes obscene noises during his kills, most of which are overtly sexual (he uses a dildo converted into a switchblade during the first kill).
One would assume killer Guy (Jonathan Genet) is an angry straight homophobe – but this is quite wrong.
His horrible backstory is revealed later, and it’s not a typical one.
In fact, it depicts the type of violence that occurs because of homophobia, especially during a time where homosexuality wasn’t accepted at all.
When Guy was younger, his father caught him with his secret lover, Hisham.
This led to Hisham being murdered, Guy being castrated, and Guy’s father setting a barn on fire with Guy in it.
His amnesia, likely due to severe trauma, is broken when he sees Anne’s film, pushing him to go on a murderous rampage against those involved in a scene that recreated his tragic backstory.
Knife+Heart is a rollercoaster that allows its queer characters to be individualistic.
No one character is like another, all with their own style and, in some cases, dysfunction.
Guy’s motivations are rooted in self-hatred and jealousy.
Witnessing queer people living their lives unabashedly, maybe even having someone to love, strikes that chord of what he lost, though none of his victims deserve their fate.
His trauma and loss carry on that violence he experienced, punishing many queer people and eventually leading to his own death.