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CUSTOM [FrightFest 2024]

Written By:

Martin Unsworth
Custom

Avant-garde artists Jasper (Rowan Polonski) and Harriet (Abigail Hardingham) embark on a collaboration selling custom kinky video clips to people. One day, Jasper is offered 10K for some specific scenes. There are some snags: the footage must be shot on a specific vintage video camera, and they must not watch the tapes themselves. Jasper is troubled, however, when he has no recollection of what they did on camera for the mysterious punter and is too tempted to see what’s been recorded. As things progress, each video takes its toll on the pair.

Written and directed by Tiago Teixeira, Custom delves into a murky, ritualistic world that wouldn’t be out of place in a David Cronenberg movie. Being full of familiar genre references, it messes with the audiences’ heads as much as it does with the characters on screen. The oppressive sound design envelopes everything and is as important as any dialogue, particularly towards the conclusion. Polonski and Hardingham are impressive in their roles, albeit playing fairly unlikable characters. Their descent into psychotropic madness is handled well and offers a few surprises along the way.

Trying to be enigmatic, Teixeira fills the screen with haunting, Lynchian visuals, including one sequence that almost fetishises videotape itself. Custom almost achieves the status of being the British equivalent of Videodrome with its depiction of nightmarish scenarios. It can be heavy going, though.

stars

CUSTOM screened at Pigeon Shrine FrightFest Glasgow.

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