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“Trypophobic Posession” holds you in its sickly grasp until the very end, burrowing into your psyche like a bloody mealworm.

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Cory DeAn Cowley is a special FX/ Gore FX Queen. 

I first discovered her provoking and breathtaking work during the first Lockdown when I happened upon one of her posts via her official Facebook page: CDC Works Official (seriously, how genius is that name?!) 

I felt an instant shock of recognition; Cory’s original characters, whom she embodies fully on an almost spiritual level, bore the aesthetics and imagery that have long permeated my own dreams. 

You may recognize her from viral images featuring her portrayal of Halloween III’s Marge Guttman, in which she utilized real, live Nightcrawlers and crickets — winning Halloween in late 2022. Or perhaps you have seen her pose as her original character, ‘Fallen Seraphim’ — complete with a bald head and feral, curving horns. 

Cory encompasses and embraces the dual aspects of her own nature. She is a striking woman with Rapunzel-esque hair which measures over four feet in length, and her otherworldly eyes are odd-coloured: one blue and one brown, thanks to her Heterochromia (I also have this condition, except that mine is too subtle, boo).

Cory’s duality grows from her ability to skin-walk between modern beauty standards: she may appear to you either beautiful or grotesque, depending on her mood and her choice to apply prosthetics, live mealworms, or simply menstrual blood on that given day. 

Cory is also incredibly dynamic; she found her way into Extreme Horror acting following a live performance alongside Black Metal royalty when she joined Kjetil Manheim’s (founder of Mayhem) band Order onstage at Inferno Fest in Norway. 

Following her performance alongside a roster of Metal royalty, other artists took notice, and Cory landed two film roles in The Virginia Bitches and How The Night Receives Them, both directed by Scott B. Hansen and includes an ensemble of the movers & shakers of Metal alongside Horror legend Bill Moseley (House Of 1000 Corpses) 

With that introduction, let’s dive into Cory’s latest grotesque venture for Goredrome.

Trypophobic Posession is an Extreme Horror short that unsurprisingly focuses upon the phobia pertaining to an extreme aversion to clusters of small holes/ bumps. 

Trypophobia has taken the internet by storm in recent years, with many online users sharing triggering images and videos across TikTok and Instagram, challenging one another’s endurance around Trypophobic content. This film may send them running to their Therapists. 

Ryan Murphy even dedicated an episode of American Horror Story to Trypophobia titled ‘Holes’, which witnessed a viral reaction to the show’s image teases of honeycomb embedded inside human brains coupled with diseased tongues marked with dozens of nodulous holes. 

In Trypophobic Posession, we are treated to thirty minutes of phobia-triggering scenes featuring Cory utilizing her practical FX and gore skills to startling effect. 

The opening credits feature earthworms writhing around in a bloody sink as the unsettling soundscape of low-thrumming frequencies coupled with creepy music box-tinkling gradually builds and crescendos against a backdrop of distorted Industrial music (music provided by Mikel Balerdi).

The film begins innocently enough as we are treated to a lush outdoor scene focusing upon an apartment building bathed in sunlight as birds chirp in trees before the camera lurches inside the building, leading us up a hallway to a particular home unit. 

Once inside, the camera lurches back to the bloody sink scene before lingering upon a close-up shot of a character introduced as ‘The Wife’ (played by Cory) frantically picking at a bloody sore in her cheek.

The close-ups are jarring as the audience is forced to either witness the Body Horror in a claustrophobic space or look away in disgust. 

The camera pans over a calendar with ‘June 4th‘ highlighted as the day on which Poltergeist (1982) was released in US theatres (a clever easter egg that lets the viewer know of the film’s encroaching possession scenes).

A new chapter transition simply titled ‘Hours Later’ signifies that day has now turned into dusk and ‘The Wife’ writhes around in bed in a state of mania: her eyes are wild and rolling back into her skull, and her wide, rictus grin belies the pure fear of a human whose body is corrupted beyond any recognizable form. 

Cory is a rare breed of actor who can perform with little to no dialogue.

Her contorted bodily movements and disturbing, guttural screaming complement her pained facial expressions, resulting in a portrait of human suffering that feels far too believable. 

It may sound strange, however I resonated with this film on a much deeper level than I had anticipated. 

Those of us who have experienced intense bodily trauma, chronic pain, or chronic illness know all too well the sensation of feeling trapped by one’s own body, and this film explores the emotional impact of trying to live in a failing body.

During a scene where Cory inspects her festering flesh wounds in a bathroom mirror, she is clothed in a ‘Star Physiotherapy’ shirt. I loved this little detail because, in real life, Cory survived a car crash and has fought long and hard to heal herself. She has embraced her own darkness, her own unfettering drive to survive and to move forward anew. 

It feels poetic, then, that she has found a home in the Extreme Horror/ Indie film community, which embraces her unrelenting creativity and the extent to which she is willing to push her own body in the name of art. 

Cory is known for working with her own blood in a safe, controlled, sterile way, which she utilizes to gruesome effect in her gore scenes alongside her use of live insects (which she is also happy to recycle and even consume). 

Trypophobic Posession feels like an endurance test for both actor and audience alike. 

During the mirror scene, The Wife lifts her shirt to inspect her body: the clusters of holes and sores have now spread to cover her torso, her breasts, her stomach, her entire body. 

The practical FX are jaw-dropping and are all created by Cory herself.

Her body writhes as live insects crawl and burrow into deep, weeping sores within her flesh (her body-wide prosthetics piece included real insects and her own blood for embellishment).

I feel like I have a strong tolerance for the grotesque; however, during a scene where we see The Wife slash at her inner thighs around her lower regions, I felt myself gagging as the scene climaxed into a shocking mutilation scene, which I won’t spoil but, oh boy, prepare yourselves! 

Carrying a one-person production is incredibly difficult. However, in light of recent failings by her director, in true Cory fashion, she stepped up and overtook every aspect of the film: the practical FX, the acting, the locations, the set pieces, and the cameo (of her husband: Jim Mejia Mittmann) were all expertly sourced by Cory herself. 

This change in crew heightens the film’s impact because it feels more raw, more personal, and more flinchingly believable. 

The use of natural and artificial lights lends the film a documentary air, and it also has that VHS-era edge alongside other Extreme Indie films like The Outwaters or Red Krokodile. 

Trypophobic Posession feels like one of those dirty old VHS tapes we would swap in the school playground: forbidden, wrong, and utterly REAL. 

The film has an edge over its counterparts due to the real suffering depicted within. 

A brutal scene features The Wife, whose body is now ravaged by disease, painfully pulling her failing nude body along a hallway, leaving a trail of fetid blood and discarded mealworms in her wake. 

You believe the woman’s suffering. That’s primarily due to Cory’s physical prowess and the overwhelming claustrophobic feeling that permeates the entire film. 

Like The Wife, there is no escape, and Trypophobic Posession holds you in its sickly grasp until the very end (or when you tap out early, no judgment).

Whether you suffer from Trypophobia or not, there is enough hyper-realistic gore, REAL blood and insects, and unflinching body modification to test even the most seasoned of Horror fans.

You cannot escape the feeling that you are being forced to suffer through the sensations experienced by The Wife as her flesh breaks, leaks, crawls, and rots into an unrecognizable monstrosity. 

Trypophobic Posession feels immersive in a way that also feels very female-centric.

There are no depictions of SA and no sexualization of our lead. There is only animalistic suffering and unrelenting pain depicted by a woman who understands true horror on a primal level.

This is Extreme Horror, but it is also a redemption song for those of us who have been told that we are too weak, too female, too pretty, too big, or too disabled to continue pushing ourselves toward bettering our craft. 

Cory shines when she is putting her body through physical Hell. Extreme Horror is her altar, and she pays tribute to her dark Gods with her own flesh and blood. 

Trypophobic Posession may make you a Devotee of this extreme figure in Indie cinema, or it may send you running to empty your stomach contents. Either way, Cory is happy because her intention is to provoke, shock, inspire, and empower those of us willing to look beyond the traumatism depicted in her otherworldy art. 

If you are familiar with the works of Domiziano Cristopharo, David Cronenberg, or the Extreme Body Modification Collective White Gardenia, Trypophobic Posession will surely scratch your Splatterpunk itch. 

Trypophobic Posession is now available to buy via goredrome.com. 

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 4.5