Imagine Film Festival, which runs April 10–20 at EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is loaded with amazing genre film fare from around the world. Among the outstanding slices of cinema offered during the fest’s first few nights this year were two films dealing with different types of domestic horror, and a behind-the-scenes documentary about David Lynch’s still-disturbing Blue Velvet (1986).
Czech Republic chiller Domestique (AKA Domestique; 2018) documents the decay of a family, this time a married couple whose blind ambitions on separate but overlapping goals leads to the realms of body horror. Writer/director Adam Sedlák examines the obsessions that drive would-be professional cyclist Roman (Jiří Konvalinka) and his wife Charlotte (Tereza Hofová), who is equally as single-minded about getting pregnant as Roman is about being promoted from trainee to full-fledged cycling team member. While he goes through ever-more vigorous training and ever-sketchier medical shortcuts, she continues a regimen of hormone therapy. The two battle over dietary differences, and grow colder toward one another as a deadly, cold-war rivalry emerges.
Sedlák makes his limited budget work by giving the proceedings an increasingly uneasy claustrophobic feel, but with no background on Roman and Charlotte, it is hard to feel for either of the characters, especially as they act more and more caustic toward one another. Both actors give believable, solid performances, though. The third act delves into territory that should make most viewers squirm.
Domestik is a chamber drama meets body horror blend, and the result is nerve-wracking and almost suffocating.
- Joseph Perry, Domestik