Dir. Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury
Starring – Beatrice Dalle, Alysson Paradis, Nathalie Roussel.
The new wave of French cinema came about during the 2000s and is known for being particularly visual, this film is no exception, beautifully crafted yet unrelentingly brutal and graphic yet it somehow manages to be even bleaker than many of its contemporaries.
The film sees first-time directors, Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (both Livid, Segment on upcoming ABCs of Death 2) begin their first collaboration with the wild woman of French Cinema Béatrice Dalle (Betty Blue, Time of the Wolf, Livid), and this is a collaboration made in heaven as Dalle lends a certain unhinged aura to her character that perfectly captures the mood of the film.
Described as a horrific thriller by its makers, that term loosely captures the tone and influences of the film, along with the home-invasion and revenge sub-genres. Interestingly approached by the film makers as a love story, it is this underpinning emotion that really drives the film although not in any conventional sense and perhaps it is due to this unconventional angle that the film transcends the usual trappings of the genre and becomes something more as, along with the heightened character emotions, the scenes have an added edge of vitality which comes across to the viewer.
Beginning in a similar vein to The Descent, pregnant Sarah and her husband get caught in a car crash leaving only Sarah and her unborn baby as the only survivors. Four months later, on Christmas eve and a day before her due date, Sarah is visited by a mysterious woman who seems to know everything about her and refuses to leave until she has got what she came for no matter what it takes.
Essentially utilising just one location for the vast majority of the film, this convention allows the film to make the most of its relatively modest budget and focus the attention both the acting and, of equal importance to horror fans, the special effects.
As previously stated, this film is particularly brutal and the effectiveness of this is testament to these high quality special effects as we see heads virtually blown up, eyeball beings stabbed and several further stabbings with a variety of instruments which the directors don’t shy away as they treat us to gruesome shot after shot.
Like Martyrs’, this film will have a profound effect on you, even without the transcendental angle, and for any fans of horror this film is a must see and a triumph for low budget film-makers which puts Hollywood to shame. Incidentally, like many of the newer wave of French horrors this film is constantly linked to the Hollywood remake factory but thankfully the directors do not seem so keen.