You just don’t see enough gory romances.
Or at least I hadn’t, not until I consumed – ahem – the surprisingly engaging “Bones and All.”
Part horror movie, part road trip, and part romance, the film works on all these levels.
This is a reunion film, because it brings back together director Luca Guadagnino and actor Timothée Chalamet from “Call Me By Your Name.”
But we don’t meet Chalamet’s character right away. We do see teenager Maren (Taylor Russell, “Waves”) who lives with her father in a rundown house. It’s a home full of secrets, with one so shocking Maren’s father takes off, abandoning her but leaving her with a recorded explanation of who she is and why he left.
Maren becomes a kind of explorer, and before long she runs into someone who has empathy for her plight. This older oddball who calls himself Sully in the third person is played to creepy perfection by Mark Rylance (“The Outfit.”)
Although Maren and Sully strike up an interesting not-quite-friendship, Maren continues her journey to seek more information about her own past. She then meets Lee (Chelamet,) and the two begin a tentative romantic relationship while they keep traveling together.
I know I’m being vague about all of this, but the movie deserves to be seen by viewers who have as little background on it as possible. But I’ll tell you this much: If you enjoy the likes of “The Hunger” and “Let the Right One In,” you might enjoy this.
Maren’s relationship with Lee is ever evolving. He has been around more than she has, and she learns a lot from him and his more brutish approach to survival.
The performances are great, and the characters are intriguing. Several scenes, including one in which Maren comes face-to-face with her past, are shocking, and some are blood-soaked. This is not for children or the faint of heart.
Some viewers might consider this a film that doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s a true hybrid that will appeal to a variety of audiences. I felt a little like I did after I saw “Warm Bodies” – “That was cool.”
3 ½ stars
Running time: Two hours and 11 minutes.
Rated: R for sexual situations, nudity, scenes of death, gore and violence.
At Cinemark, Davenport; Regal, Moline; and Palms 10, Muscatine.
Watch the trailer here.