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The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Disturbing Beauty of “Saltburn”

It’s murder on the dance floor — but you’d better not kill the groove.
Photo Courtesy / YouTube MGM

Written, produced and directed by Emerald Fennell, the psychological thriller “Saltburn” was released in theaters on Nov. 17. The film itself has held an air of intrigue since the trailer dropped because of how little it gives away about the plot. This intrigue has taken social media by storm, specifically with TikToks depicting fans’ reactions to watching the film without knowing anything about it. 

The film centers around the young man, Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan), and his relationship with Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi). The two meet while studying at Oxford in 2006, where it’s made obvious the differences between them. Quick is much more off-putting and quiet, whereas Catton is popular and adored by all — however they become fast friends. The latter invites Quick to live at his estate, Saltburn, over the summer with his incredibly wealthy and extremely eccentric family, where things begin to darken and twist as a result of their unregulated, pleasure-filled life. 

The stars of this film, Barry Keoghan and Jacob Elordi, are perfectly cast in their complementary roles. The two play off of each other on-screen, emphasizing their differences in character despite their electric chemistry. The acting feels authentic, as if the two really are deeply bonded in their friendship, even in the darkest moments. 

This film is certainly disturbing at points, and not for the faint of heart. Some scenes may be triggering for viewers, specifically with moments of gore, sexual depravity and overall grotesque content. Despite the vulgarity it beholds, it overall is very beautiful cinematically. Shot on 35 mm film by Academy Award winning cinematographer Lucas Sandgren, the artistry of certain shots seems to reflect the obsession with surface level beauty the film dissects.

Even in scenes of unsightly nature, the beauty of the film itself juxtaposes the actual content. Additionally, this way of shooting really creates a sense of intimacy within the film. It’s incredibly immersive; while watching, it feels as though the audience members are flies on the wall, observing every scene as if they’re within the halls of Saltburn itself.

Because of how mesmerizing and alluring the film is, the ending unfortunately seems a bit lackluster, at least in the way it pulls back the curtain and spells out the answers to all the questions the film raises. It seems to underestimate the viewers’ ability to put the pieces of the puzzle together and leaves nothing to the imagination, thus taking away a bit of the otherwise captivating mystery. 

With that being said, the film is still highly entertaining and wickedly fun for the most part. In its dark and twisted nature, there is still a great sense of comedy throughout the scenes, with the extremity of the characters and their setting. The soundtrack also adds to the sense of the wildly whimsical lifestyle of this family with songs from MGMT, The Killers and of course, the soon-to-be infamous finale of “Murder On The Dancefloor” by Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

Going into this film with such a sense of mystery is arguably the best way to watch it; having as little knowledge as possible allows all the shock to be that much more jaw-dropping. Overall, “Saltburn” is a thrilling watch, living up to most of its mysterious expectations that can only be understood by experiencing the film. 

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About the Contributor
Molly Downs, Culture Editor
Molly Downs is a junior English major serving as the Culture Editor. Outside of the Torch, she is a big fan of music, movies, books and cats. Molly can be reached at [email protected]

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