BRAT’s review published on Letterboxd:
while iain reid's novel extracts horror from blood and dread, charlie kaufman's interpretation extracts it from existentialism, from the unavoidability of aging, from the unease of being perceived, from the eeriness permeating the claustrophobic atmosphere. they both tell the same story in completely different ways, which is exactly what a book-to-film adaptation should aim to do.
in the book, there's a fascinating passage about how humans need allegory and metaphor in order to more comprehensively understand the world around us. this is the most central idea of the film, i think: our tendency to tell ourselves stories in order to live (a personal fav sub-genre of mine, thank you joan didion). especially as it seems to function as an unexpected reckoning of film history, with lengthy homages to golden-age musicals and parodies of contemporary cheesy studio dramas -- a character even directly quotes pauline kael's controversial review of A Woman Under the Influence during a conversation about cassavetes (🥰).
here, kaufman once again proves he's a master of the subconscious and all of its abstract intricacies. "you can't fake a thought." our thoughts silently exhibit us at our most authentic, most private, most vulnerable. the only other people who have access to our psyches are generally our partners, and even they can't see it all. we can choose to find either terror or comfort in that. or, we can sequester ourselves by idealizing strangers so we don't have to form real connections and risk heartbreak! but i suppose that's just choosing terror.