A moody meditation on that electric border between lust and bloodlust, backed by a plaintive soundtrack by Tindersticks, Trouble Every Day is a puzzling look at gender roles, sex and monsters in modern horror.
Béatrice Dalle’s Coré—lovingly held captive by her husband Léo (Alex Descas)—routinely escapes to seduce and literally consume unsuspecting men. Meanwhile, a honeymooning groom (Vincent Gallo) seeks the couple because of his own obsession and similar sexual disposition. The film watches—with a detached, languid air but not without sympathy—as these two tragic monsters succumb to their natural drives.
Writer/director Claire Denis takes up the hunger metaphor, a common enough theme in horror, equating sexual desire with feeding frenzy. Indeed, Julia Ducournau would follow in her compatriot’s footsteps with her own groundbreaking 2016 coming of age film Raw, the two pictures becoming the flanks of a burgeoning French erotic cannibal horror subgenre. Where else but France?
Denis doesn’t offer a great deal of exposition, relying instead on startling images to convey themes. The slow, meandering story lacks any of the intensifying pitch regularly associated with the genre. Rather than focus on the obvious action beats of a film, Denis lingers in the spaces between. Of course, that’s just her style as a filmmaker, but in Trouble Every Day those simmering pauses only make the action more unseemly.
This is a tough film to watch. Trouble Every Day is a startling work of biological horror, but its existential riffs on intimacy, dominance and violence—common fare in the genre—are clearer-headed and more disturbing here than in anything else that swims the same murky waters.
Much of the acting feels improvised, but Denis’s camera is purposeful, holding on the back of a neck, a clavicle, the inside of a wrist. You can almost see the pulse. The murder sequences are particularly bloody and profoundly uncomfortable, but the film gets under your skin and stays there, which is the point of horror, right?