Dacryphilia is the intense sexual arousal by the visible emotional distress of others, often relating to crying and tears. Hematolagnia is a similar obsession, though this involves being sexually aroused by blood, which often can include ingestion or physical contact. These two forms of sexual fetishism have been labeled as extreme and “perverse,” and an exploration of these themes in the film is an enticing prospect. However, it all became moot after this seven-minute attempt at arthouse horror finally concluded, and it was revealed that the writer and co-director (with actress Lilith Singson) of Dacryphilia + Hematolagnia is the infamous Shane Ryan.
Split into two chapters, the short is structured as a hallucinatory fever dream of twisted desire, swirling with juxtaposed imagery always harkening back to blood and tears. While the film plays more as an experimental music video than anything else, it barely even fulfills that purpose. Its dimestore kaleidoscopic visuals never evolve or expand the overall themes beyond the superficial, and is pretty toothless as a horror of any particular stripe. While its flashes of creative editing highlight an overall vibe of obsession and nuanced eroticism, its effect is stunted by its severely limited imagery and lackadaisical context – the same shots of the same events seemingly repeat continuously till its effect rapidly regresses from the hypotonic to the inane.
“…structured as a hallucinatory fever dream of twisted desire, swirling with juxtaposed imagery always harkening back to blood and tears.”
I have described Ryan’s past work as “slightly more coherent Ulli Lommel fodder with moderately less repetition,” and that remains absolutely true here. The few scattershot elements that are successfully employed to explore the film’s titular fetishes are so heavily overused that any shock or awe that could have been wrung from this short dries up nearly instantaneously. Interestingly, some of the shots where blood is pouring down on an actor (which heavily reminds me of Tommy Wiseau in The House That Drips Blood on Alex) are for sale as stock footage on the Pond5 page for Mad Sin Cinema. Toshiyuki Hiraoka and J.K. Wiechert’s musical score sounds as if it was entirely composed and recorded on a Casio keyboard, and after a few minutes, makes immersion nearly impossible. While it is apparent that the filmmakers are trying to explore these mental states esoterically, it never actually explores more than the simple details that these fetishes exist and that some people who are aroused in this way act out their desires nonconsensually.
I have always respected the nature and drive of transgressive filmmakers, even if I do not particularly enjoy their work (such as Nick Zedd and Jon Springer), but I’ve found fairly little to enjoy or uplift here. Ultimately, it says quite a bit about Dacryphilia + Hematolagnia that its greatest redeeming feature is that it is blessedly brief.
Dacryphilia + Hematolagnia (2019) Directed by Shane Ryan, Lilith Singson. Written by Shane Ryan. Starring Lilly Montano, Shane Ryan, Lilith Singson.
3 out of 10