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[Tribeca ’21] ‘Shapeless’ review: Powerful body horror about eating disorders

Unique and frightening.

Shapeless is a horror movie that explores the psychological horror of eating disorders. Ivy (co-writer Kelly Murtagh) is an aspiring singer. During the day, she works at a dry-cleaning service. What little down time she has alone is spent filled with worry and self-doubt. Her eating disorder has also begun manifesting in monstrous ways.

Director Samantha Aldana deals with a sensitive subject in a feature debut. Turning Shapeless into a generic horror movie would take away all meaning. Aldana’s solution is to deliver a methodical character driven tale. It is a wise decision that makes Shapeless genuinely frightening. The fear is not in outrageous scares but in personal moments. The exact scenario may not be relatable, but the idea of fighting to keep control of one’s life is.

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[Tribeca '21] 'Shapeless' review: Powerful body horror about eating disorders

Murtagh does a great job of carrying things. The film would not work without a strong lead performance. She does a magnificent job of showcasing the uncertainty and terror Ivy is going through. Murtagh gets across the horror aspects of Shapeless and the more dramatic moments. That being said, some may find the character to be a little too one note.

In a similar vein, Shapeless does not invest much into other characters or plot threads. This is a very straightforward story about one person’s struggle. As good as the film is, there is not much depth to its story. While the horror is visually disgusting, what makes it especially effective is the psychological trauma that is associated with it. This brings another layer to Shapeless that makes the scarier scenes more engaging than they normally would be.

The Tribeca Film Festival takes place from June 9 – June 20

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