‘Bones and All:’ Love at first bite

New romantic horror film captivates just as much as it disturbs



Maren and Lee stop at a gas station during their road trip through the south.

Piper Sorenson, Staff Reporter

For decades, fantastical themes have played a part in the romance genre. Most everyone has picked up a book about faeries or a movie about vampires, thinking nothing of it. Usually, these elements are more interesting than terrifying, with their inhuman behavior romanticized by both the other characters and the audience. “Bones and All” doesn’t play by those rules.

Maren, played by Taylor Russell, is a cannibal, albeit a fairly unwilling one. Abandoned by her mother and raised by her normal father, she feels alone and misunderstood by everyone around her. She doesn’t want to eat people, but her inexplicable compulsions leave her with no choice. 

Lee, played by Timothée Chalamet, is just your everyday teenage boy, except he’s always on the run, never staying in one place for long. Oh, right. He’s also a cannibal, with significantly less solid morals than Maren. The character sports a signature red mullet that is (hopefully) box dyed, not permanently stained from his victims’ blood.

 This whirlwind road trip through the backstreets of the American South in the 1980s could be classified as both horror and romance, taking viewers for a bumpy ride in Lee’s strangely comforting pickup truck. Cruising through state after state, the teenagers continue to meet both friends and foes on their way. 

The journey hits the brakes when Maren makes a discovery that throws her off course. Both she and Lee have to decide for themselves whether they should stay on the run together or whether their moral gaps are too wide to bridge.

From renowned Italian director Luca Guadagnino comes a story of star crossed lovers trying to find all the answers while finding themselves too. He directs with an air of tastefulness, showing framed pictures and scrapbook-esque images of people even when their bodies are being eaten in the room down the hall. His message is clear: The gore isn’t there for shock value, and these people’s lives mattered greatly. It’s not about good vs bad, but about the inevitable tragedy of their compulsions. It’s emotional and poignant, even when dealing with situations that are less than picture-perfect.

“Bones and All” also doesn’t fall into the trope of normal girl and otherworldly guy like many other stories have, such as other undead romances like “Twilight.” It also does not shy away from blood and gore in favor of lighter scenes. Instead, Maren and Lee eat people together in order to satiate their shared compulsions. So cute! 

The movie is best described as a can’t-look-away experience that captivates just as much as it disturbs. The main duo enthralls viewers with their undeniable chemistry while the vast American heartland serves as the achingly desolate backdrop. Mixing rattling graphic scenes with heart-tugging domestic romance, the abrupt mood changes are reminiscent of visual whiplash. And as the teenagers’ voracious journey comes to a close, the ultimate question will be answered. Can Maren and Lee overcome their dark history and live a happy, normal-enough life with each other? Or will their past eat them alive, bones and all?