Cannes: Body-Horror Flick ‘The Substance’ Wows Fest, Getting Nine-Minute Standing Ovation

The Substance, a gruesome body-horror flick, had its world premiere Sunday night in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and was greeted with a nine-minute standing ovation from the crowd at the Grand Lumiere Theatre.

The sophomore directorial effort and English-language debut of the French filmmaker Coralie Fargeat — she also wrote, produced and edited the film — stars Demi Moore, Dennis Quaid and Margaret Qualley (Qualley also appears in another competition title at this year’s fest, Kinds of Kindness), all of whom were on hand for the screening.

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A gory fantasia that is a twisted cross between the classic films Sunset Boulevard and Freaks, it is one of the most out-there Cannes competition films since Titane — and, with the right mix of jurors, could follow that film to a major festival award, if not for the film, then perhaps for Moore.

Produced by Working Title’s art house mavens Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, the film was originally set to be distributed by Universal, but will now receive a U.S. release via MUBI. Other territories have sold to other distributors during the fest.

In addition to cast, the audience included Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Abel Ferrara and Carla Bruni.

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