Though not perfect, ‘Bones and All’ is a daring horror romance that’ll leave audiences squirming for more.
Practically anything Timothée Chalamet is in attracts Gen Zs to the theatre, and it’s nice to know there are a few genuine movie stars who get audiences to the theatre today. In this case, we have ‘Bones and All’, a horror romance film that feels entirely different from anything released this year.
Starring Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg, and André Holland, the story follows a pair of young cannibalistic lovers who flee on a road trip across the country. In its simplest description, ‘Bones and All’ is a body horror film that seemingly transposes to a romance story at ease.
It’s different from the typical cannibal flick where instead of being completely revolted, we somehow sympathize with Maren (Russel) and Lee (Chalamet) despite them quite literally eating people, ‘Bones and All’. Regarded as Eaters, Maren and Lee are part of a small group of people born with cannibalistic impulses.
It’s not entirely clear what happens if Eaters don’t feast, though we do know that Eaters can smell each other and get a sense of when another is nearby. Besides Maren and Lee, we learn a bit about other Eaters, such as the unnervingly eerie Sully (Mark Rylance) and the sadistic Jake (Michael Stuhlbarg). Rather than overexplain what an Eater is, the film keeps it simple: they have a nearly uncontrollable urge to feast on human flesh.
Body Horror and an Impeccable Score
Like any good horror film, ‘Bones and All’ works with excellent practical effects to demonstrate some truly gruesome scenes. One of the best comes early in the film, highlighting the depravity of Maren’s impulses and setting the rest of the story up. It also comes as a complete surprise, thanks to the trailer not revealing much about the story.
I originally went into it thinking it’s a film about two drifters who become cannibals rather than characters who are forced to act on their impulses because of genetics or whatever causes an Eater. Once Maren acts out on an impulse—biting a new friend from school’s finger off at a sleepover—it explains some looser questions from earlier in the film.
For example, the shot of Maren’s dad (Holland) locking Maren’s door from the outside, Maren and her father’s living conditions, and Maren not being allowed to see others makes a lot more sense when you know about her situation.
Those elements are heightened more thanks to the film’s impeccable score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The score beautifully transposes the nitty-gritty cannibal scenes from the love story that’s blossoming between Maren and Lee.
Everything works well in ‘Bones and All’, primarily thanks to Maren’s reserved yet likable character portrayal, Lee’s unhinged yet troubled past nature, and the many other oddball characters throughout its story. Still, ‘Bones and All’’s biggest weakness comes down to the third act, which feels entirely rushed.
I haven’t read the source material yet, but I imagine the novel is a lot more drawn out with these sections, and with the film already being two hours, Luca Guadagnino or the studio probably didn’t want the runtime to approach three hours. It’s a shame because I would’ve loved to stay with these characters even longer, which is a testament to how good it is.
‘Bones and All’ is everything you could want from a film in 2022. It has excellent cinematography, an incredible score, a great cast, and an unusually compelling yet disturbing story. Though the film feels rushed in the second half despite having a two-plus hour runtime, the film is certainly one of the better options of the year and a top horror contender for 2022.