Nocebo review | Eva Green needs healing in Lorcan Finnegan’s thriller

Nocebo stars Eva Green as a successful children’s fashion designer who is plagued by a strange illness. Here’s our review. 

NOCEBO eva green


Horror is really having a moment in 2022. Lorcan Finnegan is the man behind one of the most quietly disturbing, yet memorable psychological horror films in recent memory. Vivarium starred Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots as a couple stuck (literally) in a suburban nightmare and forced to raise an insufferable, strange child. 

Many of those flavours are present in Finnegan’s latest film, Nocebo. It’s yet another psychological plunge into the psyche of a suburban couple who are put through quite the wringer, an examination of the monstrous domestic life. 

Eva Green stars as Christine, children’s fashion designer, who begins to suffer from a mysterious illness. She experiences strange hallucinations and is losing her grip on reality, but help arrives in the form of Diana (Chai Fonancier). 

nocebo chai fonacier

Credit: Vertigo Releasing

Diana shows up at Christine’s door, telling her she’s the housekeeper Christine hired, although Christine can’t seem to remember it. She accepts the help, even though her husband Felix (Mark Strong) is suspicious. Diana, originating from the Philippines, introduces Christine to folk healing, but it seems that Christine’s nightmare is only just beginning. 

Nocebo, a term which roughly means the worsening of symptoms on the patient due to their psychological state or negative expectations regarding treatment, is exactly as terrifying as you’d expect from a filmmaker like Finnegan. He masterfully builds a dark, tense atmosphere into his film which is mostly what makes Nocebo a success. 

Eva Green is reliably good as Christine, but the character feels frustratingly one-dimensional. Chai Fonacier is excellent as Diana; she’s both a comforting and menacing presence, which gives the film a juicy, delicious sense of dread. 

Mark Strong, although great, comes and goes from the film too frequently to leave an impression. His character doesn’t have much momentum, although he seems the closest to the audience surrogate. He’s the voice of reason, rightfully suspicious of this stranger who has entered his home out of nowhere. 


Credit: Vertigo Releasing

The film explores themes of guilt, fast fashion and exploitation and these are undeniably interesting, but the film’s plot seems to be on shaky ground. Even if you believe that Christine would let Diana into her family’s life, including caring for her daughter, the ending of the film feels a tad obvious and uninspired. 

The film is at its best when Finnegan focuses on the film’s mood and the nightmarish imagery. Jose Buencamino’s thumping score accompanies the film nicely and adds to the unnerving atmosphere. Finnegan also carefully works to draw parallels between the two women, but it’s clear from the beginning that there is something sinister about Diana. There is also some interesting swapping of who is the real victim here, who’s our protagonist, but just as this all comes to play, the film ends. 

Even if Nocebo never quite reaches the brilliance of Vivarium, or the creepiness of Finnegan’s first feature Without Name, it’s still a worthy expansion of the director’s body of work. Working with familiar subject matters and themes, Finnegan is fast becoming one of the most interesting names in genre filmmaking, even if Nocebo is his weakest film yet. 

Nocebo is in cinemas 9 December. 

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