Spoiler-Free Film Reviews: “The Funeral” and “Custom” (FrightFest Glasgow)

March 11, 2024

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at josephperry@gmail.com. He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

THE FUNERAL (CENAZE; Turkey, 2023)

Hearse driver Cemal (Ahmed Rifat Sunger) takes a job of which he is leary from the start: driving away with the body of a murdered young woman named Zeynep (Cansu Türedi) and hiding away with the corpse for a month until her family is ready to claim it. Matters become instantly complicated when Cemal checks into a motel and hears breathing coming from Zeynep’s casket. I don’t want to give away too much more of the plot, so suffice it to say so that in the first act, viewers learn that Zeynep is indeed quite dead — sort of — and that she develops a particular hunger, and that Zeynep’s feelings toward her drive him to do whatever it takes to feed her. Director Orcun Behram delivers a highly unique take on the living dead subgenre that boasts  terrific lead performances from Sunger and Türedi. Engin Özkaya’s cinematography splendidly portrays the bleak tone of Behram’s eldritch feature. Desperation and dread drive this gripping riff on monsters-and-their-enablers stories, which has horror at its core but mashes up its fright fare with road movie and romance (a decidedly odd one, to be sure) elements. 

CUSTOM (U.K., 2024)

Writer/director Tiago Teixeira’s Custom is a bizarre slice of cinematic voyeurism that finds couple Jasper (Rowan Polonski) and Harriet (Abigail Hardingham) branching out from their artistic aspirations when money is harder to come by. They turn to making on-demand arthouse porn for wealthy clients that have unusual tastes, but when an acquaintance suggests a new, mysterious customer called The Audience, the pair find themselves immersed in a dark, paranoid world in which, for starters, they are filmed performing acts that they don’t remember. Hallucinatory sequences abound, keeping both the protagonists and viewers off kilter and curious about what will happen next. Teixeira conjures up a dizzying atmosphere, and as its early scenes that included Harriet getting sexual with a chest wound on Jasper unfolded, I wasn’t sure I was ready for whatever Teixeira might have in store. I indeed made it through, however, and the result was a genuinely weird slice of cinema inspired by David Cronenberg, among others. One of the few missteps for me with Custom was the choice of voice masking for The Audience — seasoned fear fare fans will have heard similar distorted voices many times before, none of which make it easy for viewers to hear and understand — but the film overall has many positives going for it, including fully committed performances from Polonski and Hardingham. 




The Funeral and Custom screened as part of FrightFest Glasgow, which ran March 7–9, 2024 in Glasgow, Scotland, U.K. For more information, visit https://www.frightfest.co.uk/2024Glasgow/.


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