Catherine Delaloye’s “Cyanide Love” uses remarkable visuals and unique storytelling to explore the darker nature of human sexuality and psyche.
Written & Directed: Catherine Delaloye
Produced: Mariana Trevino & Chiara GerekMusic By: Daniele Panza
DP: Nicolas lopez
Main Cast: Jordan Monaghan, Cameron Moir
Marilyn (Jordan Monaghan) is obsessed with model and singer Nathan (Cameron Moir), so she can’t believe her luck when she is given his number following a chance meeting after a show. Marilyn makes contact and her infatuations with the singer soon becomes clear, which suits Nathan who likes to remain in control and play things by his rules.
The closer Marilyn gets to Nathan, the more fanatical she becomes. But is this obsession too much for her to handle?
Cyanide Love is a new short film from writer-director Catherine Delaloye, who is probably best known for her roles in front of the camera, including the lead role in the zombie horror Welcome to Essex (2018).
Beautifully shot, ‘Cyanide Love’ is a film which focuses on the visual style and emotional performances from the cast, especially for lead actress Jordan Monaghan as Marilyn — a character who we learn throughout the film is not what she seems. The film creates a surreal and almost dreamlike state, with a clever use of lighting, Dutch angles, and unusual cut shots to express the emotions of the characters. While some of the concepts seem confusing at first, as the film progresses, things begin to make sense and all seems to fall into place.
Quite often the scenes with Marilyn on her own are portrayed in the dark to reflect her loneliness, with the main light reflected in the room often coming from her phone or computer. Whereas, the settings in which she is with Nathan seem to become the brighter. This does however change later in the film, where the use of neon lighting creates a more sombre tone to reflect the emotions of the moment — a sense of both excitement and fear.
There are several creative ideas which add to the dreamlike style of Cyanide Love, but one of my favorite elements is the way in which it visually depicts the emotions of Marilyn.
In cut shots, we see her bathing in a white liquid. Her emotions are exhibited in her actions, whether it is her getting excited or aroused. The concept works really well to depict her emotions without the idea becoming sexualized, especially with the facial close ups which try to engage you with the character. Admittedly, when I first got a glimpse of this visual, it was difficult to really understand what it represented. But the concept gradually becomes clearer as the film goes on, building up to create a real impact with the unexpected ending.
The film concentrates on the relationship between the two leads, Cameron Moir as Nathan and Jordan Monaghan as Marilyn, both of who seem perfectly cast in their roles. Cameron looks at home as the rock style singer, with a smooth persona. There is also an intensity when he doesn’t get what he wants. He seems to enjoy having the control over Marilyn as he becomes more forward with his intensions, with the ultimatum of walking away should she not become more submissive to his requests.
As the film goes on, there does seem to be a darker side to Nathan, which is emphasized early on during a photoshoot where his assistant suggests that there is a darker pretense.
Jordan Monaghan is well cast as Marilyn who displays both a strength and vulnerability throughout the film. In one aspect of her life, she is in control with sometimes cold disregard for others. But when it comes to her relationship with Nathan, she often seem lost in her idolization. It leaves the audience feeling conflicted towards her.
At times you will sympathize with her because the grandeur of the moment creates a naive vulnerability in her. She’s entrapped in the situation that leaves her so infatuated she will do anything to get more. However, there is also another side to her, an air of self-importance and a disregard which makes you think of her in a very different light — not so different to Nathan.
The dialogue at times is limited to allow the film to focus on the visual performance of the characters and the style of the film, which is enhanced by the film’s excellent score from Daniele Panza. From the piano or synthesizer sound to the recurring theme, the sound helps gradually build up the momentum throughout the film — creating a sense of loneliness when Marilyn is alone, and later an apprehension when Nathan starts to take control.
Cyanide Love offers a stylish and original take on your typical horror film.
It works really well as a short, with a powerful ending that leaves questions unanswered and gives the viewer an opportunity to make their own interpretations of what happened. Catherine Delaloye has proven that she has the ability to think outside of the normal boundaries of horror and has created something unique with this film. I am looking forward to seeing how she progresses and what she does with her next project. Hopefully she can continue to create something original and push the boundaries of traditional horror.