Fantaspoa 2024 Review: THE COMPLEX FORMS, How Classic Auteur Cinema Would Be If It Had More Monsters

Contributing Writer
Fantaspoa 2024 Review: THE COMPLEX FORMS, How Classic Auteur Cinema Would Be If It Had More Monsters

Strange things are happening at an ancient villa in the literal middle of nowhere.

A bunch of men are gathered here, all of them with a peculiar contract. A middle-aged man named Christian (David White) is in the process of finalizing the deal with a mysterious, bossy looking man.

Apparently, Christian is being paid a large sum of money for letting an unknown monster entity to possess his body for 12 days. He is not informed what this possession entails and when it will occur, only that he needn’t worry; the arrival of the creature will be announced by the sound of thunder.

While waiting, Christian and the other man are busying themselves with household chores and speculating about what they really signed up for. One day, the thunder booms, and soon Christian and his new friends strongly suspect that they might really wish for a way out of the deal.

The Complex Forms, the feature debut of Italian director Fabio D'Orta, premiered at the end of last year at the Torino Film Festival (Special Mention at the Crazies Competition) and made its way into Slamdance, Fantasporto and now Fantaspoa 2024 programming. There’s no doubt there will be more selections in the film’s future, as it has all the signs of a true festival hit.

It has a fun and exhilarating premise, striking black and white aesthetics (the cinematography was shot by D’Orto, who’s also the writer, editor and producer), is reminiscent of many classic films, and makes commendable use of its low budget. If anyone reading this feels like there is a “but” coming though – there is.

D'Orta’s film starts with an impressive opening shot with a burning car and an upside-down tilt, and then throws us in the middle of an intriguingly macabre bureaucratic discussion about monsters and possessions. Then, the movie gradually builds up to being a cross between Samuel Beckett and early Guillermo del Toro, something like Ingmar Bergman meets Alien – which honestly sounds like the best pitch ever.

When the creatures arrive, they are creatively and impressively designed; Fabio D’Orto is also a visual effects artist, and it shows in his directorial feature debut. After this point though, the film kind of loses its track and its steam, provided that it was a slow-burn affair to begin with.

The runtime of The Complex Forms is slightly over 70 minutes, and weirdly, it feels like both too much and not enough, like it could have been more fleshed out, or it could have worked wonderfully if it was a short. There is a lot of waiting, and cooking, and dining, and there are some suspenseful, Lobster-style attempts to escape, and then there is a resolution that disappointingly gets delivered via a character sitting down and explaining things.

There is a curious idea in there about the true nature of possession, but it mostly gets lost amidst the great expectations for the outcome. In the end, it is still a memorable debut; if only it had dared to be slightly more unhinged it could have been truly fantastic in all senses of the word.

The film enjoyed its international premiere at Fantaspoa 2024

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David WhiteFabio D'OrtaMichele White

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