In a cinematic landscape saturated with sequels and safe bets, a dark horse has emerged from the shadows, promising to captivate audiences with a blend of genres that is as rare as it is intriguing. Saltburn, the latest offering from Oscar-winning writer-director Emerald Fennell, which could be described as a ‘gothic horror erotic thriller‘, defies expectations, weaving a tale of wealth, class, and desire that is set to become 2023’s surprise smash hit.
Fennell, who previously enthralled viewers with her debut Promising Young Woman, returns with a transgressive narrative that plunges into the depths of the Gothic tradition. Saltburn is not just a film; it’s a perverse, psychosexual odyssey that marries the grandeur of British class drama with the visceral thrill of an erotic thriller, all while maintaining a lusciously dark aesthetic that could only be born from the mind of Fennell.
A Lush Tapestry of Obsession and Desire
The Story Unfolds
Set against the backdrop of 2006 Oxford, Saltburn introduces us to Oliver, a scholarship student portrayed by the Oscar-nominated Barry Keoghan, whose life takes a dramatic turn when he befriends the aristocratic Felix Catton, played by Jacob Elordi. An invitation to the opulent Catton family estate for the summer spirals into a series of tragic events, painting a darkly luscious portrait of obsession and visceral wanting.
The Visual Feast
Emerald Fennell’s choice to couch the story within the trappings of a British class drama lends the film an air of contemporary grandeur, making the viewer complicit in the unfolding drama. The cinematography, courtesy of Linus Sandgren, evokes the baroque darkness of Caravaggio and the rococo elegance of Gainsborough, creating a visual language that is as evocative as the narrative itself.
Casting Shadows with Stellar Performances
Keoghan’s Towering Presence
Barry Keoghan’s portrayal of Oliver is nothing short of a revelation. With a performance that is both sinister and irresistible, Keoghan navigates the complex emotional landscape of his character with a finesse that anchors the film’s narrative. His ability to mask Oliver’s manipulative nature behind a façade of vulnerability is a testament to his growing prowess as an actor.
Elordi’s Charismatic Aristocrat
Jacob Elordi, known for his role in Euphoria, brings a weaponized charm to the character of Felix Catton. Elordi’s performance is a dance of deception, where his wealth is less of a character trait and more of a tool to ensnare those around him. It’s a role that showcases his versatility and cements his status as a rising star in the thriller genre.
A Symphony of Excess and Elegance
Fennell’s Gothic Vision
Emerald Fennell’s direction is a masterclass in the Gothic Horror genre, with Saltburn serving as a canvas for her to explore themes of excess and the sublime. The film is a celebration of the genre’s hallmarks, from its grandiose settings to its intricate plot twists, all of which Fennell handles with a deft touch that elevates the material to new heights.
A Cinematic Confluence
Saltburn is not just a Gothic Horror film or an Erotic Thriller; it is a confluence of both, creating a unique cinematic experience. Fennell’s script deftly employs metaphors of moths, spiders, and vampires to weave a narrative that is as much a fever dream as it is a reflection of reality’s darker corners.
The Supporting Cast’s Lustrous Shine
Pike’s Chilling Matriarch
Rosamund Pike delivers a performance that is both chilling and satirical, portraying the family matriarch Elspeth with a razor-sharp wit that slices through each scene. Pike’s ability to embody the idle rich with such precision is a highlight of the film, proving once again her immense talent and versatility.
A Gallery of Eccentrics
The film also benefits from the exuberant choices of its supporting cast. From Alison Oliver’s troubled sister Venetia to Carey Mulligan’s tragically eccentric family friend Pamela, and Richard E. Grant’s perfectly befuddled aristocrat, the ensemble cast brings a richness to the world of Saltburn that is as intoxicating as it is immersive.
Final thoughts of this gothic horror erotic thriller
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Saltburn is a film that revels in its own complexity, a gothic horror erotic thriller that is as provocative as it is visually stunning. It is a film that demands attention, not just for its narrative ambition but for the sheer audacity of its execution. With Fennell at the helm, the film is a testament to the power of genre-blending storytelling and the enduring allure of the Gothic tradition.
As it prepares to grace cinemas, Saltburn stands poised to become a cultural phenomenon. It is a film that will undoubtedly divide opinion, but for those who are drawn to its darkly seductive call, it promises to be an unforgettable cinematic journey. In the landscape of 2023’s film offerings, Saltburn is the surprise that audiences didn’t know they were waiting for.
What do you make of this report? Do you want to see Emerald Fennell’s gothic horror erotic thriller, Saltburn, when it comes to the cinemas?
Saltburn is slated to be released in cinemas in the United Kingdom on Friday 17th of November, and it’ll be released on Prime Video shortly afterwards.