Starring Shannon Lark, Alex Goldrich,
Directed by Maude Michaud
A feminist, activist, and key member in Women in Horror Month, indie filmmaker Maude Michaud is no new face to horror. In fact, she’s been creating films since 2001 under her production company, Quirk Films. Michaud wrote, produced, and directed her recent award-winning feature film Dys-. Dys- explores the collapse of a marriage during a massive virus outbreak in which a Montreal couple, Eva (Shannon Lark) and Sam (Alex Goldrich), are confined to their small apartment to avoid contamination.
The virus plaguing Montreal causes blood coughing fits, confusion, and rage. However, Dys- deals more with the characters at hand than the terror outside. Eva and Sam’s marriage is broken before the concern for public health. There’s a tension between them and early on we discover that neither character is particularly likable. This was a conscious decision from Michaud. We are forced to look in from the outside as Eva and Sam’s stories unravel in front of us. Lark delivers a beautiful performance as Eva, a model sinking into depression and coming to terms with her aging body and change of career. Goldrich is a perfect partner as Sam, a photographer dealing with his own guilt for leaving Eva to work in New York, and finds himself responsible for her depression. Michaud paints a very clear picture of what it’s like to be with someone who doesn’t understand mental health issues, as Sam often undermines Eva’s feelings and makes statements like “calm down,” and “you need to relax” when Eva expresses any emotion.
As we follow Eva and Sam’s descent, we realize that neither party has a true understanding of what’s happening to them or around them. There is some serious body horror to be had inside Dys-, and cringe worthy moments that aren’t often seen within the horror genre. At times the gore is gratuitous, but effective. Dys- seamlessly blends dysphoria and dysfunction and I often found myself questioning “how much of this is real?” Michaud has found her voice within this film and her vision is clear.
Dys- explores the human brain and the female body effortlessly. She keeps us on the edge of our seat as we dive deeper into the characters’ madness and are forced to watch to the end, even though at times it would be easier to look away.
View more of Maude Michaud’s work here!