Matthew Saliba is a filmmaker that I have long been a fan of. Ever since first reviewing She Was Asking for It back in 2007, I have been keeping up with Saliba. In fact, for full disclosure, I consider him as a friend. However, I would call him a friend whom I would be honest with if I found any problems with his art. If you are not familiar with his work, his earlier short films were all done in a very experimental style similar to that of Chris Marker’s La Jetée, which is to say his original shorts were told via still photos with a mix of narrative devices. Mixing genre tropes with sexual fetishism, Saliba has become an independent cult figure of sorts. Although his work may not be known by the masses, he does have a very large and growing audience. In recent years, Saliba has been experimenting with color, live action, and even some theater. Expanding his abilities as a director, with Eroticide Saliba proves himself to be just as experimental and daring as he has ever been.
The film begins with a handsome young man named Yan (Jocelin Haas) sitting down to have dinner with his loving girlfriend Elise (Stephanie van Rijn). Just as they are preparing to order, Kendra (Lisa Di Capa) comes walking through the door. An old flame of Yan’s, the two used to have a very S&M-heavy relationship. Yan enjoyed being dominated by Kendra, but eventually moved away from her for some reason. Kendra steps into the restaurant with her anger at a boil. She verbally accosts both Yan and Elise, leaving Elise left feeling very hurt due to Yan not stepping up to defend her. After Kendra arrives back into Yan’s life, Elise has no idea just how much of a problem this dangerous woman will prove to be..
Saliba opens the movie up with the previously-mentioned encounter between Yan, Elise, and Kendra, and it will immediately divide the audience between those who can handle this movie and those who can not. It is a sequence that is guaranteed to have audiences squirming in their seats. At first we are introduced to Yan and Elise who seem like a very ideal couple. They’re so cute together, and although their background, which is that Yan met Elise after accidentally hitting her with his car, seems a bit macabre, they seem to be a rather picturesque couple. Then Kendra walks through the door. In a performance that borders on being over-the-top, Lisa Di Capa is unrestrained feminine dominance within her role. This is an area that Saliba is well versed in, as it is a taboo that pops up in almost all of his shorts. The idea of a woman being in power and humiliating a man is something that Saliba has an obvious fascination with, and in Eroticide it seems that he has discovered the perfect context to deliver his vision.
Channeling the raw sexuality and obsession with flesh that dominated David Cronenberg’s early work, Eroticide is a psycho-sexual drama that is as much a visual force as it is a character piece. Featuring some rather beautiful photography to go along with sequences that may prove to be too difficult for some viewers to accept, Eroticide is divisive right down to its core. The movie establishes this early, but in the most memorable sequence in the movie, it becomes blatantly obvious that this isn’t something for all audiences. The male protagonist, Yan, makes love feverishly to his girlfriend, but ultimately finds himself backing out due to his having little interest in regular sex. When he finally decides to imagine a rendezvous with his previous lover, the intense Kendra, things become much more interesting for both Yan and the audience. This sequence will separate the audience, and it does so with a tremendous amount of cinematic power. During this sequence we see spit swallowing, boot licking, and some very intense subjugation. As the film develops, things get further and further out of control, and for those who can handle the content, they are likely to have their minds blown.
Outside of the sadistic and masochistic nature of the movie, Saliba’s film opens up doors that deal with self esteem issues and general ideas that come into play within even the most mundane of relationships. Often in life, we make connections with people whom we either grow to love or develop such a fascination with, that we often use them as a way to judge every relationship afterward. Sometimes, however, those relationships are not the healthiest for our mental state. Eroticide gets in there and takes these ideas to their perverse extremes.
In the end, millage will vary because of the film’s content, but for fans of dark cinema, this is worth owning. Clocking in at just under 38 minutes in length, one only wishes the experience could last longer and perhaps we could see what a regular day in Yan’s life looks like. You can read more about Matthew Saliba and all of his projects over on his official blog: http://matthewsaliba.wordpress.com