Review: TEAR ME APART

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Tearmeposter

British cannibal drama is chilling and effective.

Director Alex Lightman’s fascinating apocalyptic Brit-flick TEAR ME APART is indeed a cannibal film. But it’s not one in line with the exploitative jungle shenanigans the Italian masters are revered for, nor is it a sly, blackly comic romp like Antonia Bird’s RAVENOUS. No, TEAR ME APART is something different entirely. It’s a slow, moody and atmospheric meditation on the end of the world seen through the eyes of young people struggling to make sense of it. And yes, people eat people…

All you really need to know about whether or not you’ll respond to TEAR ME APART’s singular vision is encapsulated in its haunting first 5 minutes, opening as it does on stunning Cornish beach and reef landscapes, the sound of the surf crashing at the shore and deep, dark, didgeridoo-drenched ambient music swelling on the soundtrack. In the middle of this lonely, breathtaking splendor, we witness the murder of a man at the hands of a younger man who then proceeds to slice at and savagely eat his victim. It’s not a particularly gory scene but it is ample macabre and seeing these vulgar transgressions juxtaposed against such beauty is uncanny and visceral.

The rest of the picture follows suit, blending a primal LORD OF THE FLIES aesthetic with something more ethereal, sexual and ultimately, rather sad.

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TEAR ME APART takes place in a ravaged future, where inexplicably, every woman on the planet has vanished, effectively winding down the species and leaving only wandering bands of violent men to scavenge the landscape and commit all manner of acts in order to survive. Our points of entry into the tale are two Scottish teens, the older of which has a vague memory of the way the world was, the other (and the opening sequence’s aforementioned murderer) born into the new, brutal landscape and knowing no other way of life.

The younger boy is a cannibal, something that, in this desperate new existence, is not particularly taboo anymore, rather it’s expected. The elder brother frowns on such behaviors and tries in vain to curb his sibling’s interest in eating human flesh and in turn, his own desperation that might just lead to his partaking of cannibalism himself.

When, the boys encounter what may or may not be the last woman on earth, their dynamic takes a predictable but still pleasing dramatic shift. Think THE WORLD, THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL, THE QUIET EARTH or the recent Z IS FOR ZACHARIAH…except with teenage cannibalism.

TEAR ME APART is bound to bore some horror fans looking for blasts of splatter or something more urgent or immediate. But those who like this sort of movie, one where nature itself is a character, where allegory and metaphor take precedence over narrative propulsion and where intellect supersedes action, will probably find themselves quite taken by it. It’s a haunting, moving and sensual indie horror movie and one this writer suspects will find himself revisiting often…

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Weekend: Dec. 12, 2019, Dec. 15, 2019

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