Prosthetic makeup designer Mark Coulier is the genius behind the violence and gore that was probably responsible for many cases of insomnia. It was his practical effects that made it humanly possible for Olga (Elena Fokina) to get twisted and broken in all sorts of unnatural ways, Susie (Dakota Johnson) to rip her chest open, and Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) to morph into decrepit coven matriarch Helena Markos.
That isn’t even what all those sheets of silicone and buckets of fake blood were used for.
So how did Coulier break Olga as she so desperately tried to escape Markos Dance Academy? You might remember how Susies’s movements inflicted torture on the other girl, who was trapped in the room next door. When her face smashes into the mirror, what appears to be a dislocated jaw is actually a silicone prosthetic, just like the prosthetic that appeared to make her stomach sickeningly visible under the skin when her ribcage was broken. The arm behind her back? Silicone. Actress Elena Fokina’s real arm was covered in a green sleeve so it could be digitally erased.
Each of the three girls who try to get past the school’s doors meet some sort of gory demise, to the point that Coulier needed gallons of artificial blood (one was even labeled “Chloe blood” for Chloë Grace Moretz’s character Patricia to give you an idea of how much she bled out). Coulier and his team relied on forensic photos and texts to get that dismembered corpse look for the three dead girls, down to their silicone innards. A prosthetic with the “blood” pumped into it made it possible for Dakota Johnson to mutilate her own chest without so much as scratching herself.
Coulier recalls that Guadagnino wanted Helena Markos to be “really disturbing,” not the type of stereotypical witch with the grotesque nose and pointy hat you’d find in Roald Dahl’s The Witches, but something that was pretty much decomposing before your eyes. All those moles and skin growths came from a photograph of an old woman that the team used as reference. No word on whether her ghost is haunting them yet.
That isn’t even all the horror — watch and feel all the blood slowly drain from your face.