Is there anything more satisfying than a catchy pop tune you can’t get out of your head? A tune that pounds its way into the crevices of your brain and infiltrates your every thought? Many times these songs enter our consciousness with little regard to who wrote, who sung it, and how it came to be a hit. But, Brady Corbet’s film, Vox Lux, forces the audience to confront the sinister undertones of pop and its relationship to the spectacle of violence.
Vox Lux is presented in two parts that are defined by two violent tragedies that affect the life of pop star Celeste, played by both Raffey Cassidy and Natalie Portman. These violent tragedies occur when Celeste is 13 and 31. The first act of violence defines Celeste and shapes her career, her persona, her entire life. The second less directly impacts her, but is still a reflection of her career. Giving much more away would ruin the experience. This is a film best viewed with almost zero expectations or knowledge going in. Let the surprises, twists, and turns wash over you like a bubble-gum-sweet summer ballad that you find yourself mindlessly repeating on your commute home.
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Body horror is usually discussed in tandem with directors like David Cronenberg, Clive Barker, and John Carpenter. Body horror is defined by the Collins Dictionary as “a horror film genre in which the main feature is the graphically depicted destruction or degeneration of a human body or bodies.” John Carpenter’s 1978 The Thing is a prime example, as an alien parasite takes over a group of human bodies. The parasite stretches, rips, and destroys the group one by one, rendering their bodies into something totally unrecognizable. Other examples are The Fly, Videodrome, and Alien.
But body horror doesn’t always have to be about such intense and graphic depictions of the ruined body. Yorgos Lanthimos depicts a different kind of body horror in his film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer. His body horror is more controlled – instead of bodies falling apart into bloody piles, the bodies of Bob (Sunny Suljic) and Kim (Raffey Cassidy) fall apart in a predicted and methodical way. The horror comes from the inevitably of this decay, the medical solutions used to try to solve the decay, and the brutality of its solution.
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