BUFF 2019: PopHorror Dives Into Blue With Our ‘Knife + Heart’ (2018) Film Review

Knife + Heart is a breath of fresh air from the euro cinema scene. I wasn’t sure what I was in for after seeing the trailer, but as soon as I saw Vanessa Paradis, I knew I wanted to see more. Growing up in Quebec, we were all well aware of Vanessa Paradis because of the huge French influence present in Montreal, which was the jewel of North American French culture. Paradis’ latest venture has been well timed and critically acclaimed for good reason. Yann Gonzalez’s (You And The Night 2013) Knife + Heart is sure to quickly find a diehard audience.


Knife + Heart is an erotic thriller set in 1970s Paris. Someone is murdering the cast and crew of a gay porn film production, and Paradis’ character is cast to replace the victims. As the film progresses, the police prove to be less than competent, so Paradis’s character Anne sets a trap for the killer by way of a casting call to trap him.

According to IMDb:

Paris, summer 1979. Anne is a producer of gay porn at discount. When Loïs, her editor and companion, leaves her, she attempts to reclaim her by turning a film more ambitious with the flamboyant Archibald.

Also starring Kate Moran (You And The Night 2013) and Nicolas Maury (Paris, je t’aime 2006), Knife + Heart is interwoven with quite a few plot points and relationships which thrive as their own stories and dovetail at certain points. The film is filled with a myriad of homoerotic culture standards, such as leather fetish, gay sex clubs and the vulnerable twink character who is more often than not the victim of the ghastly and graphic murders. The visual style of the film is stunning, with lighting and camerawork that dances between the cinema blue from the time period to crisp and clean imagery seamlessly.

Surprisingly the actual erotic sexual encounters of the film are quite toned down for a film of this genre. The killings, on the other hand, are quite brutal and graphic. The only real issue is that eventually, the murders become somewhat formulaic and less interesting.

Knife + Heart is a distinctly European film that tends to rely heavily on dialogue and visual prowess. The scenes that play out between two characters rely heavily on this to set the tone. There are a lot of moments in the film where dream sequences lend a hand in the story telling, and this is where Writer/Director Yann Gonzalez’s talents shine through.

If nothing else, this is a film of passion. Every scene is dripping with a distinctly European sense of joi de vivre mixed with turmoil. As a perfectly bilingual person, I primarily watched the movie in French. When I did look at the subtitles, I saw that the dialogue was lost a bit when comparing it to what was actually being said. It was not that far off, but key emotions and points of tension were lost or watered down slightly, which stole a bit from the intended breath of the scene. This is to be expected, and getting lost in translation is a very real thing that occurs with any film not in our native tongue.

Knife + Heart reminded me somewhat of the Pacino/Friedkin film, Cruising, and I think that was heavily intended by Gonzalez. The similarities in style and imagery are too prevalent to discount, and I would feel safe in surmising that it was a huge influence on Gonzalez.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed Knife + Heart quite a bit more than I thought I would. It was a nice departure from my typical safe, snug slasher and possession films I tend to stick to. I love the fact that horror/thrillers can do what no other genres are allowed to do, which is tell a story from any angle – in this case, the LGBT community – and find not only an audience, but a home. Horror has always been a bastion for all who need a place for their ideas to live without persecution. I loved seeing Vanessa Paradis again after all this time, and I think that Yann Gonzales will have a cult following on his hands with this one.

Read another PopHorror reviewer’s thoughts on this film here.

About Chris Prevost

From the second I knew how to speak, I knew I wanted to write. Every time I touched someone with my words I knew if it was in print I would reach those who would listen. Writer / Film Critic / Contributer at PopHorror.com, Site Manager / Podcaster / Contributer at Minds of the Morbid Podcast, Administrator for All Things Horror Facebook group, Administrator at Horror Haus of Sinistry Facebook Group. Writer / Film Critic / Contributer at filmquirk.com

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