There’s nothing like a confusing yet intriguing psychological thriller, and Egidio Coccimiglio’s Compulsion is one of those underrated gems. Starring Heather Graham and Carrie-Anne Moss, the 88 minutes long premiered in the US in June 2013.
Inspired by the original blood-filled Korean film 301, 302, Compulsion centers on Amy, a delusional and obsessive chef who discovers that one of her all-time favorite child actors, Saffron, has moved in next door. While both Amy and Saffron deal with their own psychological issues, they find solace in each other, creating a movie made of disturbing love, trauma, and excessive amounts of delicious food.
Aside from Heather Graham in the role of Amy and Moss as Saffron, the rest of the cast of Compulsion consists of Kevin Dillon playing Fred, Joe Mantegna playing the detective, and Natalie Brown as Rebecca. Compulsion may seem like a mid-budget film, but it can surprise you with its deeper, complex characters and perfect acting.
Compulsion: What Happens In The 2013 Film?
Compulsion begins with Amy, a lonely and delusional chef, being approached by Detective Reynolds for a case regarding her missing neighbor, Saffron. As the duo talk about food, we see the main storyline in retrospect.
With her fiancé Fred, Amy is busy renovating her kitchen and coming up with multiple new requests that bother Fred. Throughout the movie, we see Amy talking to herself and pretending to be on a cooking show while an imaginary audience cheers her on.
It was Amy’s dream to become a famous Food star and have her own cooking show. Just as the renovations are going on, Amy notices that a new neighbor has moved in next door. This turns out to be Saffron Nelson, a child actress who was now out of work and employed as a writer for a magazine.
Amy’s obsession with cooking leads Fred to be tired of her need for appreciation, and he ends up cheating on her with his coworker. Amy eventually finds out about it and arranges a special dinner with Fred, where she ends up cooking his favorite Love bird and serving it to him.
Fred and Amy eventually break up, and Amy’s left cooking all alone for herself in her stunning kitchen. In an attempt to become friends, Amy gives some of her cooking to Saffron. Things are not easy for Saffron, and she isn’t able to eat anything without vomiting it out.
Amy starts forcing herself into Saffron’s life, and the two seem to become friends. Every single day, Amy cooks up a new exciting meal for Saffron, only for her to throw it away or store it in the fridge. While Saffron is taking out her trash, Amy notices her throwing away the food and forces her to eat it.
This is when Saffron reveals that during her younger days, her mother used to force her to have a strict diet, and it was what led to her now voluntarily vomiting food out whenever she saw or smelled it. Amy doesn’t get the idea and offers to cook another simple dish for Saffron, which her stomach might like.
The two start hanging out at each other’s apartments, with Amy helping Saffron prepare for an audition. The day of the big audition arrives, and Amy accompanies Nelson.
Before the audition could be completed, Saffron ran out of the venue. The director of this new project that Saffron was looking forward to turns out to be an old abuser from her initial days in the film industry.
The sudden fear in Saffron’s eyes causes Amy to be worried about her, and later that night, Amy visits Saffron in her room. Up until now, Amy’s obsession with Saffie had grown way too big, and Amy was at a point where she could do anything just for a little bit of appreciation.
After Saffron talks about her personal life and trauma from being the only breadwinner of an ungrateful family, Amy and Saffron get intimate. In the middle of it, we see Saffron asking Amy for a favor.
Compulsion 2013: Ending Explained
Coming back to the present time, the detective keeps Asking Amy about her relationship with Saffron. Since Detective Reynolds wasn’t having any of the desserts, Amy served him a portion of her meal from earlier. Reynolds talks about the incident with Fred and the lovebird.
Amy denies doing anything wrong, and the detective notices her washing away the bloody dish. Somehow, Reynolds believes he was fed human meat and fearfully runs out of the apartment. Now, back to her solitude, Amy sits by her kitchen and enjoys the meal all by herself, with Saffie still there in her imagination.
Although we don’t see any of those gore-filled events unfolding, it is implied in Compulsion’s ending that Amy had killed Saffron on her request and made her into one of her finest meals. The detective puts things together and leaves because he knows something’s very strange about Amy.
Neither Saffron nor Amy could have a good life due to their mother’s upbringing. The impact of being forced into intimacy and fame at a young age caused Saffie to become traumatized and reclusive. All Saffie ever wanted was to disappear. With Amy forcing herself into her life, Saffron could see how unhinged she was when food or love was involved.
Saffron saw this as a perfect chance to make her and Amy’s wishes come true. Amy, being extremely out of touch with reality, agrees to help her out, no matter how grim the request is. Compulsion 2013 may keep the details of Saffie’s death hidden, but the original films 301 and 302 showed the entire process of the protagonist killing the other woman and eating her.
It’s safe to assume that Amy went all Hannibal Lecter, and the dish she served Reynolds and later was eating by herself was Saffron’s body. As strange as Compulsion can seem, it’s a great way to study different characters and see how they deal with each other. The slow pace could be boring to many, but there’s a special excitement in watching things slowly unfold.
At present, Compulsion 2013 is available to stream on Netflix.
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