[CFF 2022] PUSSYCAKE Review - Blood and Guts Meet Girl Power in Pablo Parés’ Queer Horror Feature
Jaclyn Bartlett says PussyCake is stylish and the suspense will leave you on the edge of your seat.
From directed by Pablo Parés comes the Argentinian Queer horror feature and Screambox Original, PussyCake (Emesis). Parés developed the story with Hernán Moyano while Maxi Ferzzola wrote the screenplay. It first premiered in Argentina on December 11, 2021, before appearing at the Night Visions Film Festival in Finland this year. The film follows a struggling all-girl rock band thrown into a deadly situation while on tour. They soon discover their worst problem is not just being forgotten by their fans as they fight to survive.
The film commands attention with its unique concept and story, with no shortage of suspense-inducing twists and turns, and stands out with its women-led cast of strong, complex characters. The band includes Elle (Macarena Suárez), Sara (Aldana Ruberto), Juli (Sofia Rossi), Sofi (Anahí Politi), and Pato (Flor Moreno). Trouble arises when they arrive at a strange town to perform a gig only to find the residents have become aggressive, zombie-like creatures.
With fully realized characters and interesting dynamics, PussyCake shines. It would be easy for its five leads to blend together or for certain characters to fade into the background, but instead they each stand out with the well-written dialogue showcasing each woman’s personality. The dialogue flows naturally between band members, with their banter and heartfelt moments reminiscent of our own group of friends.
Sara and Elle’s relationship takes center stage. Ruberto and Suarez have believable and flawless chemistry. Their interactions illustrate their feelings and how far they’ll go to protect each other. The most notably complex character is Elle. The trauma of a prior relationship adds depth to her character, leading to her ongoing desire throughout the film to prove she is not vulnerable and can fend for herself. It’s empowering to see Elle recognize her strength and what she is capable of.
The film’s visualization enhances the viewing experience. From special effects to costumes, there is nothing dull about PussyCake. The makeup, gore-fx, and few instances of CGI are high-quality and create a sense of realism in genuinely frightening and unsettling scenes. We can completely immerse ourselves in the action, increasing the widespread suspense. The film is disturbing in the best way possible. It is hard to watch but also hard to look away from. The costume design is a highlight with the events of the film occurring after a live show, the band is dressed in performance attire, each with a unique outfit reflecting their personalities. Adding to the “girl power” theme as they fight for their lives while retaining an air of femininity, showing that there’s no reason you can’t be strong and pretty at the same time.
While PussyCake is endlessly entertaining, with a suspenseful plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat, it has a lot of moving parts, making it somewhat hard to follow. The film introduces a lot of interesting points but doesn’t provide much explanation as to why things are happening. The audience is left in the dark. The connection between the opening scene and the vents of the film may leave some wanting to know more about how the events in the lab caused the town’s residents to become monstrous.
PussyCake is entertaining with intriguing characters and deliciously disturbing special effects. It's packed with suspenseful moments and anything but predictable. However, it does introduce numerous fascinating ideas that are never fully realized, but the film is left open-ended making room for a possible sequel with a more in-depth backstory.
PussyCake was screened at the Chattanooga Film Festival, presented by Bloody Disgusting on June 24, 2022. The film releases on the streaming service Screambox and digital on-demand on August 30, 2022. Watch the official trailer here.