What To Watch On Shudder: Repulsion and More

Here’s what to watch on Shudder this week, including Repulsion, The Love Witch, and short The Grey Matter

What to Watch on Shudder: Repulsion

Roman Polanski’s Repulsion is one of the director’s best films. Released in 1965, the film was Polanski’s first English-language film. The film is about a young Belgian woman living with her sister in London, who descends into a perilous state. Catherine Deneuve delivers a great performance as Carol, the young woman whose mental state slowly unravels in Polanski’s psychological thriller. Repulsion is a landmark genre film, one that lingers after the credits have rolled. Read a full review of Repulsion here.

What to Watch on Shudder: The Love Witch

Anna Biller’s The Love Witch is an amiable pastiche of late 1960s/early 1970s exploitation films. The film is about a modern witch (set in that period), who uses spells to make men fall in love with her. Biller adds a feminist approach to the exploitation film, offering a protagonist with a commanding presence, and seemingly-strong male characters who buckle under the title character’s charms. Anna Biller is something of a one-woman film crew; she directs, writes, produces, and edits the film, as well as being responsible for art direction, production design, costumes, and music. The Love Witch is a visual feast, it is a colourful, alluring film that does not skimp on the gore.

What to Watch on Shudder: The Grey Matter

Directed by Peter McCoubrey and Luke McCoubrey, The Grey Matter is a short comedy horror. An office worker wakes up in an alley with a head injury and a later personality transformation, which seems him attract the attention of a beautiful colleague. The Grey Matter combines comedy with horror tropes, and does so in a light and engaging way. The short film offers decent special effects, and a story fit for its eighteen-minute run time.

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Film Review: Repulsion

Roman Polanski’s 1965 psychological thriller packs a punch in the unnerving atmosphere it creates. Filmed in black and white, this low-budget picture was Polanski’s first English-language feature.

Repulsion‘s narrative centres on Carol, a beautiful but distant French girl living with her sister in London. As the film progresses, her psychosis becomes more and more severe, resulting in cataclysmic effects.

Repulsion exhibits the artistry of Polanski’s direction. The opening shot of a close-up of Carol’s eye immediately grabs the attention. This is followed up by many lingering shots, almost a visual interpretation of the protagonist’s mindset. Sound is also used to great effect in the picture; the ticking clock is particularly disturbing, for both Carol and the viewer.

Catherine Deneuve excels in playing Carol with the understated reticence required. Her disintegration is both disturbing and compelling to watch. Part of the brilliance of Repulsion is that it does not explain the reasons behind Carol’s psychosis. Whilst there are hints, the audience is left to make up their own mind about possible causes.

With the hindsight of what followed in Polanski’s personal life, some of the themes of the film seem unsettling in retrospect. Nonetheless, Repulsion stands as a landmark in the genre, as well as one of the director’s biggest triumphs.

Repulsion was shown at the British Film Institute, as part of the Psycho: A Classic in Context season.