when i consume you movie explanation

When I Consume You Detailed Movie Walkthrough

When I Consume You Detailed Movie Walkthrough
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When I Consume You Detailed Movie Walkthrough. I have a small confession to make. I might have broken into the movie premier for When I Consume You over a year ago. I mean, it was an online premier… so I didn’t PHYSICALLY break in. But I wasn’t supposed to be there, that much is for sure. I even tried to pull strings with MacLeod Andrews, and Evan Dumouchel, whom I’d interviewed a couple times before. But nope. They were zero help. So, I hired a Canadian to get me in. And since then, I’ve been sitting on this one. Dying to talk about it because Perry Blackshear, Evan and MacLeod (and now Libby Ewing) make fantastic movies together. I guess you could say They Look Like People had an amazing impact on me. I’ve gotten close to a number of film makers and tried to support them in anyway that I can – but something, there’s just something about this trio. (Reminds me, I need to hunt Libby down now! She won’t know what hit her.)

Anyway – this is a movie you need to feel, more than you need to know. And so, today, we are going to talk it through… the emotion of it, the sheer tonnage of emotional magic that is hitting the audience like an anvil. After the jump, we are going to get into it – do NOT continue if you haven’t watched this one. Thanks.

When I Consume You Movie Walkthrough

Daphne Wilson – played by Libby Ewing – opens the movie spitting a tooth into the sink. She’s most obviously been beaten. Bruises. Blood. She’s been abused somehow. And she is terrified. We are presented with a really scary, deep and darkly brooding atmosphere. She escapes to the shower, and we catch a glimpse of something sinister.

Enter Wilson. (Played by Evan Dumouchel). Wilson is slow on the uptick. All the bulbs on Wilson’s Christmas tree definitely don’t light. A janitor with a desire to become a teacher one day. But we all know that’s not going to happen any day soon. And after applying for the latest job, he gets yet another rejection. Wilson is accustomed to being told no. But it’s obvious it stings. And Daphne is rejected in her bid to adopt (eagle-eyed viewers will note that the adoption employee is none other than Margaret Ying Drake from another of Blackshear’s fantastic movies, The Siren). But while the world is seemingly crashing in on them both, the one thing that this brother sister pair have is each other. Their love is really magnetic and strong. The larger question for me? Is Daphne feeling like Wilson’s parent? Guardian? Does she feel guilted into protecting her brother?

Sitting on the fire escape together – Daphne gives Wilson a necklace pendant that has the quote, “I sought my brother…” Which comes from a Martin Luther King Jr. quote…

“I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother and I found all three.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

So, yeah – we are going to have to stick a pin in this particular quote. Because it seems important enough that Perry put the quote on the screen to make sure we could read it off of the pendant. We know that Daphne had a tumultuous childhood. The siblings didn’t get along well with their parents, and she had a terrible time with drugs, and she even got super angry the last time she was at the adoption office. So, yeah… she is having trouble. And Wilson? He can’t even tie his tie. Yeah. Well, after being told he isn’t even going to get an interview, let alone the job, Wilson heads home and finds his sister dead. And there are signs of a struggle, of blood, of some sort of ritualistic somethings having happened. It’s unclear what is going on. But importantly, when Wilson rushes back into her room, he sees someone fleeing the scene.

I found the narrative choices here from Blackshear really fascinating. With Daphne gone – we are left with Wilson. Okay. Huh. And now what? Oh, a revenge arc? From Wilson? How? I’d argue that there is no purer love than from Wilson for his sister. And the desire for getting justice for his sister practically the most perfect emotion the planet has ever experienced. And yet. How is this going to work? It’d be like Forrest Gump playing the part of Sherlock Holmes? I’m not seeing it. Thankfully, Blackshear knows what he is doing here. We are in capable hands.

Wilson, grieving, has no idea what to do and it’s illustrated by the chaos that whirls around him. Police officers, ambulances, chaos. And eventually, as he is staring at his phone, a hand, obviously Daphne’s, presses the numbers in order to help Wilson find her things. Apparently they were collected after her “tragedy.” In that box, he finds a journal saying that she needs to tell Wilson about how it’s getting worse and worse. That it’s not just in the bars and clubs anymore, but also just following her home from work. That she has been able to cover the bruises, but that she’s lost a tooth and she’s worried. And following a map that she has sketched in her journal, he encounters him for the first time, and is beaten pretty badly. And afterwards, Daphne appears out from under his bed… “she’s been trying for a while.” “She doesn’t know all the rules.” What is going on here? Is this just Wilson’s grief? Or is she really here? And from here on out, the duo begin to push to find a way to get revenge on the person that killed Daphne.

At about the half way point, we are shown a flashback to 5 years prior. It’s a really critical, eye-opening scene. Wilson finds Daphne, totally wasted, outside her apartment. Daphne doesn’t even recognize Wilson she is so far gone. It takes Wilson a few minutes to convince her that he is her brother. It’s not a good look. So we know from her conversation with her adoption organization that she had issues with drugs and alcohol in college, and had issues later. But she’s been clean “for the last five years.” And then she applies to adopt… and is denied. We’ll get back to this later.

Flip back to Daphne and Wilson hunting for this demon, and training. The duo work together to search out all the areas around the house, trying to see if they can figure out where he generally frequents. And simultaneously, Wilson tries to get in shape so that when they go toe to toe again he won’t get run over again.

Then one night, while Daphne and Wilson are on the streets, hunting again, there is a moment when Daphne is overcome. She begins hearing chanted whispers in another language. There are memories of scripts and triangles, of the blood on the wall… she looks like she’s about to kill Wilson. And then someone, in a trench coat, asks for a cigarette. Wilson recognizes the lighter he’s using – but soon finds out that this is “David Castille” and is a police officer. David is a down and out police officer having the worst night of his life. But he offers to help Wilson on the case. “First, you need to know, it wasn’t drugs.” But, David… Police Detective Castille, definitely seems iffy at best. What is his deal? But while the two are chumming it up, and the detective is talking about finding his sister. Which is when Daphne whispers in Wilson’s ear… “Wilson.” Which is when Wilson catches on to Castille’s game… because he had never mentioned his sister to him.

After a struggle, Wilson wins the upper hand. He cuffs the detective with his own handcuffs and begins to triumphantly march him out. But then Daphne calls to him again, and Castille’s real visage appears. “And you just thought I was a stalker.” At which point, Castille, unlocks his hand from the hand cuff and begins hurting Wilson. Castille’s eyes glow bright in the darkness. “First you break the spirit, you cause pain. When you kill someone with a broken spirit, that person stays behind like your sister. Her restless soul, is what I eat.” It’s obvious that Castille is still breaking down Daphne, tearing her apart before she is killed both physically as well as spiritually. “This is the last thing you must see before I consume you.” Castille says to Daphne about Wilson’s dying there on the street.

Cut back to five years prior, and we watch as Daphne climbs under the bed to join Wilson. She brought him a coffee, and Wilson mentions that a few weeks prior she had told him that she had seen God. “And that it’s not out there, it’s here. Even if we can’t see it.” And she tells her brother that she just felt like she could die and it would be okay. And remember, just a year prior, she was having difficulties telling Wilson about her struggles with this demonic force in her life, right? So we know this is a pretty important conversation, but that she is leaving a lot still on the table. Wilson mentions that he once read a book that stated that everything is the ocean, and we are all just waves, and Daphne responds that that is Buddhism… probably from the book, The Heart Sutra. (Which, is the book that Wilson pulled from a box of her belongings after she died.)

She then asks Wilson if he wants to meditate with her… “You are not the story you tell yourself, you are absolutely nothing, and you are perfect. While you are still alive, be kind, for both you and the enemies will soon scatter and die like leaves and, fuck! I don’t want to die! Do you? No, I don’t wanna die, I have too much to do. No!” And after the encounter on the street, Wilson, having remembered the conversation, goes back to the apartment, and looks at Daphne’s copy of The Heart Sutra, and see runes, and scripts, and a scribbled sketch:

There’s a flash – and we see a script written in blood on the wall – “Your sister tasted good, she is in hell now, soon I will be coming for you.” And he finds a passage of Daphne’s hand writing in the book that states, “Wilson, if you are reading this then I fought the demon and failed. Wilson, now you are alone, and you need to fight for both of us. Hidden within my favorite Buddhist text I’ve shoved the history of this monster in our lives & how I’ve tried to fight it. I protected you from it, and I lied to you.” And then she continues telling Wilson about how the two of them were haunted by a demon since they were little. She wasn’t sure why the demon chose them, maybe because it thought they’d be weak. Eyes in the closet when mom and dad fought. And then it found me in nightclubs and bars in my 20’s. I thought I fought it off, and we were doing okay, but then it came back and I couldn’t stop it. And I found a ritual to become demonic myself.” So she decided to become the darkness to take on this darkness that was assailing her.

Now… stop a second. Think about that logic for a moment. In order to destroy this demon that was attacking her, she decided she would invoke a demonic power to fight back. Yeah, right? That logic is messed up. Reminds me of an amazing movie… A Dark Song, wherein a mother, so broken by her child’s death at the hands of bullies, decides to invoke a really elaborate multi-day ritual to fight back. To become evil in order to get revenge. But the ending of that movie shows how flawed that logic is. It literally makes no sense. To become evil to avenge evil? Eh? She then tells Wilson how to avenge her, to bring her back even after the demon has swallowed her soul.

And as Will is bringing Daphne back – physically ripping her out of the gullet of the demon – a critical sequence occurs. It happens to be a lot happening all at once, and each detail is critical. The first thing we see is Daphne flashing back and forth between being there on the floor, and remembering backwards. Her face is growling, and dark, then the light fades, and her eyes flash. Then we see that she is in the darkness, and her eyes are glowing. We had assumed that this was Castille. But maybe we assumed too much.

The second thing was a heart beating in the background. A slowing heartbeat. And the third thing is a cut to a prescription pill bottle. We revisit the scene of Daphne’s death, and we see that Daphne had the pill bottle in her hand when she died. Cut back to the present, and Daphne says a few critical things that we need to make sure we catch, so I’m going to quote her directly:

Daphne – “Wait, wait! It tricks you.”

Will – “Let go!”

Daphne – “Will! It did the same thing to me. With the pills.”

And then Will goes, and gets a butcher knife, and plunges it into Daphne’s… no wait, it’s Castille’s chest. And as Castille dies in agony and pain, screaming… his last gasp? Is a look of joy and happiness. Then the movie cuts to, Will high, passed out, on his bed. Wait, WHAT? And Daphne tells him that he needs to get outside, somewhere where someone will see him. See him and intervene on his behalf. Then there, on the street, Daphne explains to Will the meaning of the pendant she gave him. Then later, he and Daphne are sitting on a park bench, in the park, chatting. The end.

When I Consume You As Literalism

Can When I Consume you be interpreted literally? Sure. Satan/Demon… something, kills Daphne. It’s not a hard mental exercise to play out. Weird. But it’s doable. And then Wilson literally hunts down this murderous demon and attempts to get his revenge on his sister’s murder. Right? There are some logical leaps here we have to do… like, for instance, why would a demon want to be found? Because why would a spiritual being choose to reveal himself to a mortal? Well, maybe he’s doing it to trap Wilson? Yeah, maybe the demon wants to kill both Daphne and Wilson as well? Sure. That makes sense I guess. But, come on. We know there is a lot more going on here than that.

When I Consume You As a Spiritual Metaphor

Well, maybe if the movie isn’t literal… like, actual angels and demons… maybe it has a spiritual underpinning to it. I’ve said this time and time again here at THiNC., but it bears repeating. Whenever a movie pauses on a book on a shelf, or a character is reading a specific book, or someone mentions a book… the author of the screenplay is saying something super clear to the audience. And here, in When I Consume You, the movie does all three. We see it in Daphne’s things. We have characters mentioning it. Etc., etc. The book in question is The Heart Sutra. And I had a chance to flip through the book and read some of it for myself, but possibly the most revealing thing I found was this comment about the book in a review:

“This short gem of a book shows how distorted perceptions and disturbing emotions―arising from our misunderstanding of reality―can be completely uprooted, resulting in a freedom from suffering. Understanding the nature of reality is the key to liberation. The wonderfully concise Heart Sutra is considered the essence of the Buddhas’ teachings.”

So, the question here is… is Perry (the director and screenplay author) saying something about our inherent misperceptions about life… misperceptions about reality? And how we can remove these misperceptions and hopefully, become free in so doing? In my interview with Perry about They Look Like People and also When I Consume You he had an extremely relevant answer that seems to lockstep with this particular reading of the movie – let’s read it together and see if it helps:

“Well, it still continues to be a journey for me, and I am (as I’m sure you can tell!) pretty private, but yeah, thanks for asking about that. I grew up atheist, and had been that way a long time. But even when I was young, I always felt a little like something was missing. This health scare made me face down a lot of frightening things, and sort of shocked me awake. Like, what actually matters dude? Are you spending most of your life on things that matter, like your family and friends and doing work that you care about, or on dumb stuff?  So like a nerd I just started reading every primary devotional or philosophical text I could. And I sort of loved them. They felt like a long cold drink of water after years of being thirsty. All that wisdom about how to live a good life. It was really eclectic: Seneca, lots of Zen Buddhism, Victor Frankl, St. Augustine, Confucius. More recently I’ve been reading Thomas Merton and enjoying him. Haha, oh, man, there’s a LOT more here, maybe we can have a beer and talk about it some time outside of the internet! I’m still searching. The journey means a lot to me and has had a big impact on my life.“

I mean, besides the fact that one of the coolest guys in cinema right now quasi-invited to me to have a beer and discuss theology? Other than that? What did we learn here. Well, first off, Perry had a health scare… doesn’t matter what it is. Save for the fact that it stood him upright, and really got his attention. Something similar is happening here in the movie for Will. It’s too late for Daphne. She was tricked into believing the lie. But it’s not too late for Will. He can uproot the lie, day in and day out… and hopefully live a life that is out from under the footprint of this lie.

When I Consume You as a Discussion of Addiction

When the movie is all over, we actually get an idea that maybe something else was happening with Daphne and Wilson. Something that was off the screen, and not discussed at all. But we still got hints here and there. Ideas that maybe something else was going on. The first sort of hint, was the fact that when the police come to investigate Daphne’s death, and Wilson begins talking to Detective Castille… his first comments about her death was, “First thing you need to know is that it wasn’t drugs.” Why? Well, because we later learn that she had a pill bottle with drugs in her hand when she was found. Yeah. Why wouldn’t that be the obvious verdict for her death? Suicide or overdose?

And the entirety of the movie makes more sense from beginning to end when you stop and think about it from that vantage. This sibling-duo, lived in a house where their parents regularly yelled and argued. Fact. We also know that it was so bad that Daphne has no relationship with her parents now. Families where there was this kind of trauma feel singled out for substance abuse. Sins of the father? We don’t know if their parents had substance problems, but it’s probably true. We know that Daphne felt that the demon singled Wilson and herself out… she felt targeted. Addiction is totally something that regularly gets passed on from generation to generation.

Last night, as luck would have it, I was decimated by the movie A Beautiful Boy… and good lord. What a devastating movie. If you haven’t seen it, phew. If you are hoping to be completely gutted as a form of entertainment… yes, go see it immediately. But it deals with the reality, the chaos, the pain, the trauma that comes with drug addiction. It shows just how much damage drugs cause to the physiology of the brain, and as a result the person, and as it ripples out, the family, etc. Just horrifying. Way worse than any Alien movie, by a factorial. Anyway.. the real trauma of addiction is the horribly difficult road away from addiction. And we know that Wilson is surviving solely because he is in regular meetings, and in community. Here’s a screenscrape of his daily planner at the end of the movie:

Personally, I wonder if the moment Wilson turned the corner was when his sister said to him… “Wait, wait, it tricks you!” and then he plunged the knife into her/his chest. I wonder if that fact, the fact that the drugs, making it about something it is not… some sort of occult, larger, non-thing… was that how his eyes were eventually opened? It’s all a lie.

Personal Thoughts on When I Consume You

I have occasionally walked you guys through my own path through, in and around, and back again, with addiction. Don’t plan to reopen those particular wounds, but it is literally one of the most daunting challenges I’ve encountered in my own personal life. And I can’t imagine those people that got trapped in the world and pain of OxyContin – The show Dopesick anyone – or other hardcore drugs and the hell that they spawn. Which, brings me to a discussion of which theory I think explains this movie the best? And I’d have to say all three. There isn’t just one perfect theory here. This movie illustrates better than most the hell – like, the theological definition here – that is inflected on those that are addicted. Demons. Angels. Spiritual powers of the air. This is what we are talking about here. And if you are spiritual at all, you know that this is fact, not fiction. That angels aren’t cute cherubic, bulbous figures that are used in marketing of soft things for baby’s butts. No. And demons are not metaphorical pretenses… but rather, evil minions that want nothing more than to destroy you physically and spiritually. And drugs, can sometimes be their battleground. So, personally? I think that the religious, literal, and addictive vantages on this movie are one in the same. The spiritual battle, is literally true. The Addictive battle here? Literally true.

So, for me, this one pounded home… a bit too closely for my tastes actually. But I absolutely loved to see what a handful of people, and some guerrilla style filming (they didn’t get permits to film unless they were filming a fight scene) could create together. This trio of friends, went out, onto the streets of New York, and told a story from their hearts. And that story happened to rip my own heart out in the telling. It was really a great story of the devils and angels that struggle for our souls in this world called addiction. And I, for one, loved this movie. If it wasn’t for you, then I apologize for wasting your time (except, truth be told? I’m not. Really not.)

Edited by: CY