Demi Moore’s ‘exhilarating, batshit’ body horror film The Substance is the talk of Cannes 2024

Demi Moore on The Substance red carpet.

Demi Moore is the talk of the Cannes Film Festival thanks to her gory, body horror movie comeback: The Substance.

The Substance, from French director Coralie Fargeat, sees the 61-year-old Ghost star take on a deeply provocative role, which is also her most substantial in years.

Moore plays Elisabeth Sparkle, a celeb daytime TV host who takes a black market, cell replication “substance” to create a “younger, better” version of herself – the younger version is played by Margaret Qualley, daughter of actress Andie MacDowell.

The film goes on to explore beauty standards, toxic masculinity and female self-hatred – all of which are repeatedly mentioned in reviews, as is the movie’s frequent, prominent nudity and “gruesome violence“.

Moore stars alongside The Parent Trap’s Dennis Quaid.

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The Substance reviews 

Following its premiere, The Substance received a mighty 13-minute standing ovation. 

Early reviews speak very highly of the film. Indiewire wrote that the movie is “an epic, audacious body horror masterpiece… an instant classic. The most sickly entertaining theatrical experience of the year.”

The Substance still, a woman lying on the bathroom floor with her back stitched up.
The Substance received a 13-minute standing ovation. (Cannes Film Festival)

Meanwhile, Variety outlines: “Coralie Fargeat works with the flair of a grindhouse Kubrick in a weirdly fun, cathartically grotesque fusion of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Showgirls.

The Substance currently holds a high 92% Rotten Tomatoes score, with only two out of 25 reviews scoring the film “rotten” instead of “fresh”. 

Demi Moore’s Comeback

The Substance marks a new era for Moore, with some calling this body horror film her “comeback”.

The BBC noted Moore’s performance: “Ripping into her best big-screen role in decades, Demi Moore is fearless in parodying her public image.”

Speaking at the press conference for The Substance, the Hollywood Reporter reported Moore said the film “pushed me out of the comfort zone” but explicit imagery “was necessary to tell this story.”

Fargeat also noted: “I don’t know any woman that doesn’t have an eating disorder or some other thing that they do that does violence to their bodies.”

She added that she chose to show violence on screen “in an extreme way because I think this violence is very extreme”.

Demi Moore’s dog, Pilaf, joined her

As well as Demi Moore, another A-list star graced the Cannes red carpet photocall: Moore’s beloved pooch, Pilaf. And frankly, we’re obsessed.

Demi Moore with her dog Pilaf
Demi Moore and Pilaf. (JB Lacroix/FilmMagic)

The chihuahua was a present from one of Moore’s daughters in early 2022. Since then, Pilaf has been Moore’s iconic companion at Milan Fashion Week, the French Open and was even a guest on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

Pilaf strutted alongside celebs in the South of France, but we’re still awaiting her debut acting role.

When will The Substance be released?

There is no release date announced for The Substance yet.

However, MUBI has acquired worldwide rights to the film.

The distribution company plans to distribute the film theatrically in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Latin America.

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