Crisalida (2023) [The Chrysalis] is a Spanish extreme gore horror film, written and directed by Mikel Balerdi. Well-known in the extreme cinema community, Mikel is notorious for pushing the boundaries of artistic expression—writing and directing the films The Girl with the Cutter (2020), and Golgota (2020), as well as taking part in the collaborative anthology Vore Gore (2021). The film is a prequel to Mikel’s 2021 film Larva Mental.

A young man (Mikel Balerdi) begins to see a physiatrist to seek help for a sudden descent into masochism and self-mutilation. Whilst there, he details his introduction to self-harm and the lengths he would go to experience new sensations. However, as these acts move into the more illegal territory of murdering his wife, the shrink decides to inform the police about the young man’s escapades.


Following similar themes to Lavra Mental, Crisalida features a mix of extreme acts of self-injurious behavior with explicit sexual scenes to create an incredibly graphic piece of extreme cinema. The film chronicles our unnamed protagonist’s initial descent into the dark world of self-abuse, providing insight into the events of Larva Mental’s narrative. Depicted as flashbacks narrated by our protagonist, an intense fixation on self-destruction, necrophilia, coprophilia, and pedication is certainly at the forefront of Mikel’s artistic vision. Their unflinching representation and detailed description test the very limits of their audience, imparting a smorgasbord of simulated and genuine acts that are difficult to differentiate from each other.

Undoubtedly, Crisalida’s gruesome practical effects implemented in the artificial suffering are the star of the show, presenting a ludicrous display of pragmatic, self-inflicted violence. The sickening realism of such acts as genital mutilation, the pouring of battery acid on the skin, and body suspension with meathooks, to name but a few, will unquestionably leave even the most hardened of gorehounds writhing in their seats. The naturalistic approach, along with the unimpeded nature, produces a distilled sense of nihilism far more ardent than that featured in Larva Mental.


Moreover, Crisalida’s cinematography is a constant barrage of choppy editing and atypical blending of shots to create an overwhelming visual assault that provides little intermission in between. Seemingly benign scenes are jarringly juxtaposed with a much gorier version of itself twinned with incredibly tight shots of this visceral action, providing an inescapable front-row seat to this cavalcade of carnage. Additionally, not shying away from the more carnal aspects of the narrative, an incredibly graphic display of scandalous material that can be tough to stomach at times—the extended lingering on these only compounds their shocking nature.

Furthermore, the film’s score performs a lot of heavy lifting, chaperoning the visuals and bestowing a jarringly turbulent experience. The use of incomprehensible industrial music and Crisalida’s purposeful overdriven audio to cause a distorted effect on both the score and dialog is unequivocally overwhelming at points. The intensity of such an audial bombardment, when combined with the extreme content visualised is a bona fide violation of the senses throughout.


An acquired taste even for extreme cinema fans, Crisalida (2023) is undeniably one of the most vivid films to have been released in recent years. Pushing the limits of experimental creativity, the film produces an incredibly unrestricted depiction of self-violation that will stick with audiences long after the credits have rolled. With its experimental approach, extreme content, and disconcerting score, Crisalida is sure to be a challenging yet rewarding example of splatter horror that will exceed most audiences’ comfort levels.

Crisalida (2023) will be available to purchase from Tetro Video’s Website (releases in November)

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