Jaclyn Bartlett says Playdurizm boasts stunning cinematography and a unique concept to explore trauma and escapism.
[THIS REVIEW CONTAINS REFERENCES TO SEXUAL ASSAULT]
Fear, lust, violence, and a beautiful technicolor world are not what they seem. Playdurizm (2020) is a queer horror film written and directed by Gem Deger that explores trauma and escapism through stunning cinematography. Full of twists and turns, the film will leave audiences questioning what is real.
Demir (Deger) awakens in a vibrant purple bedroom in a lavish house with a pet pig and no memory of who he is or how he got there. Although at first fearful, he accepts the reality he’s been thrown into after meeting Andrew (Austin Chunn), his favorite actor who, confused by Demir’s memory loss, explains that he lives with him. Trouble arises when their housemate, a woman named Drew (Issy Stewart), who is in love and obsessed with Andrew, grows jealous of Demir, and the tension between them soon comes to a head.
Cédric Larvoire's cinematography and the set designs are brilliant. Demir’s world of escapism is picturesque like a work of art, adorned with unnaturally luminescent colors not reflective of real life. The film is both disturbing and pleasing to the eye. The mix of vibrant colors, bathing scenes in stunning hues, neon green vomit, a room filled with purple balloons, and a drawer beneath a couch hiding a dead body that never rots emphasizes that this is a fantasy world. The film’s structure and plot work together to show viewers that things aren’t what they seem.
One glaring issue for me was the depiction of Demir’s sexual assault trauma. It felt gratuitous. The scene is graphic and lengthy but further emphasizes his dark reality and need for escape. It’s likely to be triggering to some viewers.
Playdurizm is a provocative queer horror film and a disturbing exploration of trauma. It also examines how escapism is used as a coping mechanism for trauma. With stunning cinematography, Playdurizm deals with complex topics beautifully, without diminishing their severity. It is both thought-provoking and immensely entertaining.
Playdurizm is available for rent and purchase on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu, and other streaming platforms in the United States. In Canada, it's available on Google Play, Youtube Movies, and Apple TV in addition to Blu-Ray and DVD internationally.