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Luca Guadagnino Hates Movies Made for Shock Value, and Cannibal Romance ‘Bones & All’ Isn’t One

Some modern horror films are "mindless" according to the "Suspiria" auteur, but the Timothée Chalamet-led cannibal romance is distinctly not a routine provocation.

Bones and All

“Bones and All”

MGM/United Artists

Luca Guadagnino just took a bite out of the modern horror genre.

The “Bones and All” director revealed that he “wasn’t interested at all in the shock value” of adapting a cannibal love story from Camille DeAngelis’ novel of the same name. Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell star as a ravenous nomadic couple who live off the land (and the people) they encounter. Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg, Chloë Sevigny, and David Gordon Green also star in the film penned by “Suspiria” scribe David Kajganich. The film will premiere at the 2022 Venice Film Festival before debuting in theaters this November.

“I think ‘Suspiria’ was aggressively provocative. I think this one is much more serene in its sense of self,” Guadagnino told Deadline. “My true hope is that the audience doesn’t reject the movie as a provocation because it deals with a taboo like cannibalism.”

Guadagnino continued, “With ‘Bones and All,’ I wasn’t interested at all in the shock value, which I hate. I was interested in these people. I understood their moral struggle very deeply. I understood what was happening to them. I am not there to judge anybody. You can make a movie about cannibals if you’re there in the struggle with them, and you’re not codifying cannibalism as a topic or a tool for horror.”

The “Call Me by Your Name” director clarified his thoughts on the genre itself.

“‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ is not a horror movie. It’s a devastating portrait of America from a very unreconciled master filmmaker. Even the second one, which I love as well, isn’t a horror movie; it’s a satire of Ronald Regan,” he said. “‘The Exorcist’ is a family drama, not a horror movie. It’s about motherhood, and what is alien about that?”

Guadagnino added, “The horror movie as a genre is less interesting because it does play with the various limited set of rules, and the repetition of those rules can be funny and amusing if you want a mindless day with the popcorn at the movie theater watching ‘Final Destination.’ Or, it can be an empowering experience, or that of a great intellectual who is reflecting on those codes, like Kubrick with ‘The Shining.’ But mostly it’s just repetition.”

Guadagnino said that most modern horror movies are like “comfort food. Except comfort food is the food that makes you sick after you eat it because while it tastes fine at the beginning, it’s also heavy and processed.”

Guadagnino summed up, “I’m saying all this as a great horror movie fan, and, because of ‘Suspiria’ and partially because of this movie, a director in the camp. I think I’ll keep doing horror movies in my life, even if ‘Bones and All’ isn’t a horror movie per se.”

This isn’t the first time Guadagnino has subverted audience expectations for one of his films. The auteur previously told Fantastic Man that queer romance movie “Call Me By Your Name” is not romantic at all, but rather a tragic story.

“It’s not a romantic movie or a vanilla version of gay love, and to read the movie in that way is a bit silly,” Guadagnino explained. “And ironic.”

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