I love when Shudder sends me films to review, and Nocebo is one of the best so far. When a children’s fashion designer becomes mysteriously sick, a maid shows up at her door to help…but this maid in nothing like Nanny McPhee.
The word “Nocebo” means to harm…and the title hints at what is in store for the viewer. Nocebo is a 2022 Filipino-Irish psychological thriller, directed by Lorcan Finnegan and starring Eva Green, Mark Strong, Chai Fonacier, Billie Gadsdon, and Cathy Belton.
The film begins with Christine (Eva Green) a children’s fashion designer basking in the glory of her successful runway show of her newest clothing line when she receives some horrific news. As she digests the meaning of the call, she has a vision of a tick infested dog. In this vision, one of the ticks bites Christine. Eight months pass, and we see that Christine is so sick that it has not only damaged her career but also her relationship with her daughter and her husband, Felix (Mark Strong). Her doctors are puzzled, as is her family. Christine is so sick that she is hardly able to get her young daughter Bobs (Billie Gadsdon) to school. She desperately needs help, which unexpectantly appears at her door.
Diana (Chai Fonacier) is from the Philippines, and she reminds the confused Christine that she was hired to take care of her. True to her word, Diana jumps right into taking care of the house and family. Felix and Bobs are not comfortable with Diana, but it isn’t long before they see that Christine seems to be getting better, even though the methods used by Diana appear to be unconventional and bordering on black magic.
Diana tells Christine that something very bad is hidden inside her and that Diana can help reveal what is causing Christine’s mysterious ailments. While Christine tries to re-enter the fashion world, Diana listens through the heating grates as Felix and Christine argue about Diana’s methods of healing. Diana is trying to get Christine to own up to her actions that are somewhat connected to Diana, as we slowly see through flashbacks.
Felix is suspicious of Diana, and at first, so is Bobs, but as Diana takes on more duties, she and the child bond. It isn’t until the very end that we see why Diana has shown up at the family’s home, and why she has taken Bobs under her wing.
Like I said in the beginning, Diana is not Nanny McPhee, and through flashbacks we learn how Diana got her powers of voodoo, and how Christine is responsible for the horrific tragedy that struck Diana. “Nocebo” means to harm…and the film’s final credits acknowledge the 2015 chemical fire at a Metro Manila rubber shoes and flip flops factory that killed 74 people. You can read about the Kentex disaster here.
This is the price of cheap and hazardous offshore labor that benefits the filthy rich. Businesses have a strong domino effect on the rest of the world, especially third world countries where many companies set up sweat shops. We have only touched the tip of the iceberg on the horrors of sweat shops.
The acting in Nocebo between Chai Fonacier and Eva Green is absolutely superb, and the film masterfully reveals the horror that Diana experienced.
…Sometimes…karma is a bitch and paybacks are murder.
You can watch Nocebo on Shudder and Amazon Prime.