Fantasia 2019: Life and death in Ode to Nothing (2018)

While not strictly horror, the poetic Ode to Nothing (dir. Dwein Baltazar, 2018) which screened at Fantasia 2019 has the markers of a slow-burn horror-adjacent narrative: a woman shrouded in solitude and silence, a heavy sense of isolation, a somewhat macabre setting with an interesting interplay of light and shadow, and the slightly inappropriate exhibition of a dead body. Late one night, Sonya opens her door to some strange men who deliver an anonymous corpse to her family’s struggling embalming and funeral business. In the days following, as business mysteriously picks up, Sonya’s loneliness subsides as she finds companionship with this very unusual body. 

Ode to Nothing 7.jpg

Sonya’s solemn, unremarkable life stands in contrast to the decaying remains of life with which she surrounds herself. She is a vision of the walking dead, quiet as a corpse, constantly framed by doorways and window frames, boxed into her painfully mundane life like the clients whose coffins adorn her workspace. Sonya really only finds a breath of life when she confronts her emotions by confiding in the ear of the dead, and welcoming its presence into her home. The film is a very contemplative piece, reflecting on existence, mortality, and luck, and how quickly these elements can change. 

Score: 6.5 out of 10 corpses.

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