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Body Horror

  • Theatre
  • Recommended
A person lit by blue and red light dramatically screams, with their hands held to their face
Photograph: John Lloyd Fillingham

Time Out Says

Surround yourself with the glory (gory?) of 1980s horror in this mesmerising video performance

When I signed up for Body Horror, I was hoping for a schmaltzy, lo-fi trek through the horror genre. And while I wasn’t disappointed, what I didn’t expect was to also want to start dancing in my jammies like it was 2019 a mere 30 seconds into the production. 

Like many ventures at this year’s Melbourne Fringe, Body Horror was originally slated to be performed live. It might still be interesting to see how director Stephen Nicolazzo and the students from Monash’s Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music and Performance tackle the show in live format. But even if Body Horror never leaves the screen, it still commands your attention as a gooseflesh-raising, horror-churning work of art. 

Central to the show’s spine-tingling success is its soundtrack. Channelling everything from 1980s synth tracks (I mentioned wanting to dance, right?) to anxious shallow breathing and violent, gory monologues, Body Horror is an evocative reminder of the emotive power of music. At one point I just closed my eyes to experience the audio track alone and the show remained just as (if not more) potent. The chew track is particularly horrific, tapping into utterly banal but widely held disgust people have for the audible sound of people eating. It is no exaggeration that I wanted to vomit gently onto my laptop when hearing it. 

Body Horror takes place as a melange of non-narrative vignettes, unconnected except for their exploration of fear, horror and gore (and the ever present but possibly unintentional motif of red – be they lips, curtains or blood). While each feels intrinsically different from the last, in both sound and sights, it all feels knitted together seamlessly, which feels all the more impressive given that the performers filmed their parts separately due to the restrictions of lockdown. 

Pairs of anonymous feminine legs running through dark streets to a scream track feels painfully raw, but there’s humour in Body Horror too – most notably the gaggle of Michael Myers wannabes dancing suggestively. But the scariest moment of all (at least, if you’re a disillusioned university graduate) is left till the very last moment.

Nicola Dowse
Written by
Nicola Dowse


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