In A Little More Flesh, director Sam Ashurst pushes his metatextual technique to explore the behaviour and brutality of male abuse and rape culture through a twisted blend of critique and horror.

Like his previous work, Frankenstein’s Creature, Ashurst plays with the theatrical staging and the form of the monologue, taking it to its most playful and metatextual level in the shape of a director’s audio commentary for a faux banned 1970’s erotic drama, God’s Lonely Woman. This device drives the entire shape and tone of the piece, as it perfectly frames the authorial voice as representative of a patriarchial order in cinema and wider culture, one that dominates and abuses. The invented director, Stanley Durrell, unleashes a barrage of sexism, racism and narcissism, but one entwined with biting satire of auteurism itself, as Durall spouts references to art cinema (“Do you tell Bela Tarr that he needs to cut his shots down?”) and directors such as Scorsese and Tarantino, two of the arch cineaste auteurs. Indeed, it’s refreshing to see a filmmaker be so critical of the ego of the director, clearly mocking the self-indulgence of that figure. As the film develops, the wry parody of this culture is enveloped by the toxic misogyny and banal extremity of Durrell’s actions and opinions; the well bursts and the events he lords over devolve into nothing more than a procession of abuse and degradation for Isabella, the young woman caught in the web of his desire, played with incredible sensitivity and power by Elf Lyons, who is able to express so much empathy through her expressive performance.

The tactility of the film comes in the body of the film itself. The spirits of the past haunt the film, literally playing with the texture and shape of the material, with Ashurst warping the colours and filters of the imagery in bursts of psycedelic horror. However, while this device loses some effect in it’s jolting distance in the extreme, the act of physical manipulation finds the perfect self-reflexive impact when the shape of Durell’s original film is interfered with under his gaze. Ashurst structures breakdowns in the structure of the text, using reedited sequences, staged behind the scene footage, and most disturbingly for Durrell, sudden cuts to black, leading to outbursts of offense and clear distress for the otherwise emotionally bankrupt figure. Here, the abused take power back over the physical object that their abuser covets more than any other, and begin to push at the edges of the structures that allowed these acts to be perpetrated upon them.

Perhaps it can be argued that it is excessive to use these themes in the service of a horror film, but in these times it only feels precisely right to contextualise them within this genre for the deplorable and institutionalised reality that they are. In the film’s graphic final moment, rather than crass sensationalism, the graphic symbolism feels cathartic; the female voice fully takes the control, and the voice of Durell, the disembodied representation of male abuse is turned physical, a tangible entity to inflict retribution upon, with a violence expressed without tricks or no visual disguise, but a rage of purpose that brings not gratification…but clarity. There is no real justice, the damage has been done, but here, there can a poetic justice so often absent in these experiences beyond the lens. Weinstein, Polanski, Gaslighting, Yewtree…this is true horror, one that has existed and proliferated inside filmmaking culture, and has only really just being exorcised in a manner. The power of the film isn’t in the technique, it’s in the anger and disgust that the form allows Ashurst to unleash with purpose and artistic clarity.

Movie Review: A Little More Flesh
3.5Overall Score
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About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: