The twenty-second film in the 31 Days of Slashers series is Yann Gonzalez’s Knife + Heart (2018), or Un couteau dans le cœur. This recent French film is an absolutely stunning visual terror. In 1979 Paris, adult gay filmmaker Anne (Vanessa Paradis) has recently been dumped by her girlfriend and editor Loïs (Kate Moran). When one of her adult actors is murdered, Anne decides to make her next film about his death. As more adult actors that have starred in Anne’s films are murdered, she is thrown into a violent mystery. Will she be able to stop the murderer and figure out why they are targeting her cast members?
As you can probably guess, this film is a bit on the sleazy side. It is unrated and does contain a great deal of sexual imagery. That being said, it is also visually stunning. Gonzalez’s film is one of the most beautifully shot horror films of the past twenty years. Without a doubt, its images will stay with you long after the film is over. The murder sequences are incredibly visceral and, when combined with the sexual imagery in the film, are definitely more effective than the majority of the mainstream slasher films in recent memory.
The performances in the film are also particularly great. Vanessa Paradis delivers an incredibly deep performance that adds layers of grief and determination to Anne’s character. Anne is in a very messy place in her life, following her break-up with Loïs where she makes incredibly impulsive decisions that sometimes have disastrous outcomes. While she is certainly a very flawed character, that only serves to make her all the more realistic and engaging. Paradis provides Anne with a very unrestrained and kinetic performance that is thoroughly captivating for the entire film. I am really excited to see her future work.
It’s also quite refreshing to have a horror film that features so many queer characters. Anne and Loïs have a very complex relationship and each of their characters are given strong story arcs that shape the narrative nicely. Anne’s best friend and actor Archibald (Nicolas Maury) is also a very well-developed and fascinating character. Unlike the majority of the Hollywood horror films that include queer characters, they are not simply relegated to the best friend role or left on the sidelines. Instead, they are front and center in Gonzalez’s narrative.
With its incredible cinematography, stellar performances, and overall style, Knife + Heart proves to be an incredibly rewarding watch if you’re comfortable delving into the sleazier side of the slasher sub-genre. If you’re looking to add a bit of international flair to your Halloween watchlist this month, definitely check this one out.
Knife + Heart is currently streaming with membership on the Shudder and AMC+ apps.
I’ll be back tomorrow with another entry in the 31 Days of Slashers series!