Category Archives: French Horror Films
THE TALL MAN-United States/Canada/France-2012
Written and Directed by Pascal Laugier
Watching The Tall Man is like driving on a road late at night that you think is familiar. You are under the impression that you know your way around and that your destination is just around the corner. But then you make the turn and everything changes; nothing seems the same, as if you’re in the middle of a bad dream about driving that you’ve woken up from only to find that you’re still dreaming the same damned bad dream. If what I just said seems confusing to you then you are on your way to understanding maybe 10% of the way I felt watching this movie. I’ll even go one better for you; after the movie ended and I was left sitting there shaking my head the first thing I did was consult the Wikipedia entry for the movie so that I could read a summary of the plot to determine whether I was understanding it correctly.
Jessica Biel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The A-Team) stars as Julia Dennings, a nurse in a small, dead town called Cold Rock, located somewhere in Washington state. Julia is the town nurse. Her husband, who passed away before the events of the movie, was the town doctor and was considered a ‘saint’ in the eyes of the townsfolk. The town was once a mining community; but that’s all gone now and Cold Rock and its citizens have all crawled in their graves and laid down to die, so to speak. To makes things even worse for this little Podunk town is a child abductor known as the ‘Tall Man’. Julia is skeptical that such a person exists until her own child is abducted and she must face up to the reality that the ‘Tall Man’ is all too real. I am going to stop right there. There is no way that I can tell you any more about this movie without giving away every single plot point.
The Tall Man is the latest film from Pascal Laugier. If the name rings a bell it’s because Laugier’s previous film was the intensely disturbing and insanely fucked-up French masterpiece Martyrs. I’m positive that with The Tall Man Laugier would have loved to have captured the lightning in a bottle that he did with Martyrs and he nearly does exactly that. Jessica Biel is fantastic in her role as Julia Dennings. Stephen McHattie (Pontypool, 300, Watchmen), as a federal agent assigned to the case, is one of the most reliable character actors working today. The film moves at a steady, comfortable pace. But it all goes back to driving on that road and thinking that you know where you are. The Tall Man is one of the few films of which I think a road map would have been beneficial.
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- Tall Man Riding (1955) (timneath.wordpress.com)
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- Gory Twists and Turns: Martyrs (oneparthappiness.wordpress.com)
- A Man, Tall and Thin, and Ghastly Pale: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (theyearofhalloween.com)
- Needed to feel tall (rrruffhouse.com)
- More Than Half Amazing (slamonline.com)
Written and Directed by Pascal Laugier
At the beginning of “Martyrs” a young girl, clad only in a t-shirt and underpants and covered with welts and bruises is seen running from a building and down the street. Her name is Lucie and she has been held captive for a long period of time. We do not know why, nor do we know by whom. Lucie goes to live at an orphanage where she becomes friends with Anna (Morjana Alaoui, “Special Forces“). It is while Lucie is in the orphanage that we discover that she believes she is being tortured by an emaciated woman with cuts and scars all over her body.
15 years pass and Lucie (Mylène Jampanoï, “Hereafter” ) invades the home of the couple she believes is responsible for the torture that she endured during her period of captivity. She murders everyone in the house, including the teenage son and daughter. She calls Anna and tells her what she has done and Anna arrives at the house. At first she believes that Lucie may have murdered the wrong people; but Lucie is insistent that the man and woman are the ones who hurt her. Later, Anna discovers that the woman is still alive and tries to help her, but Lucie catches her and bludgeons the woman to death. Lucie is then again attacked by the emaciated woman. She cuts Lucie’s arms and slams her head violently into the wall. Anna only sees Lucie hurting herself and realizes that the woman is a figment of Lucie’s imagination. Lucie runs through the glass door and into the pouring rain. Before Anna can stop her, she cuts her throat, committing suicide.
Later, after Anna has brought Lucie inside and prepared her for burial, she finds an area underneath the house that is exactly how Lucie described her place of captivity. She finds a girl, chained and blindfolded. The girl is murdered before Anna can do much to help her. Anna is then captured and the cycle begins again. A mysterious woman (Catherine Bégin, “The Uncanny“) explains to her that she belongs to a society that is hoping for the discovery of the afterlife through the creation of martyrs. Anna is chained and left in darkness. Every day she is beaten mercilessly and treated with absolute violence until she finally breaks.
The one thing that I usually don’t do in regards to reviewing a film is to give a long descriptive narrative concerning the plot. Halfway through watching “Martyrs”, I realized that there was going to be no other way to get my point across about the film. You need to feel for these girls the same way that I did. You need to understand their pain. “Martyrs” is one of the single most disturbing films I have ever witnessed. At times I found myself checking the clock, hoping that it would be over soon. But then to my dismay I found that I could not tear my eyes away from what was happening onscreen. “Martyrs” is not a film that you can think you know from reading the plot. “Martyrs” is a film that you must discover for yourself. I must give you fair warning; for better or for worse, it will change you.
In Pascal Laugier’s previous film House of Voices, the main character is called Anna Jurin. In Martyrs, Anna is one of the female leads’ character names, whilst Lucie Jurin is the other.
- Bantayog Martyrs: Between Vatican II and Martial Law (edicio.wordpress.com)
- Martyrs (2008) Horror Movie Review (oldgamereviewer.com)
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- Watch Jessica Biel in Action in this New Clip from THE TALL MAN (collider.com)
- The Tall Man comes up short on terror (guardian.co.uk)
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- St. María Goretti, a child martyred for defending her virginity | ROME REPORTS TV News Agency (amhec.wordpress.com)
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- The story of Sitra’s martyrs (bahraincoordinatingcommittee.org)
- ‘The Tall Man’ International Trailer: ‘Martyrs’ Director Puts Jessica Biel Through a Different Horror (slashfilm.com)
- Birthday of Gayari martyr celebrated (nation.com.pk)
- Report proposes martyrs’ categorisation (thehimalayantimes.com)
- Movie Discussion: Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs (2008) (girlmeetsfreak.com)
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- Indie Horror: The Tall Man Trailer (theartsyfilmblog.com)
- “The Secret” Trailer: Where Are the Children? (news.softpedia.com)
- London 2012 Olympics: Day Eight morning sessionLive – BBC Sport (bbc.co.uk)
- First Clip from The Tall Man Chases Down Jessica Biel (dreadcentral.com)
- Unsettling International Trailer for THE TALL MAN with Jessica Biel (geektyrant.com)
- The French Trailer For Pascal Laguier’s THE TALL MAN (thepeoplesmovies.com)
- THE TALL MAN International Trailer and Poster (collider.com)
- Fantasia Faceoff: The Tall Man vs. Headshot (bloodyunderrated.net)
Written and Directed by Quentin Dupieux
At the beginning of Quentin Dupieux’s “Rubber” a man (Jack Plotnick, “Meet the Fockers“, “Gods and Monsters”) in a shirt and tie stands in the middle of the desert holding several pairs of binoculars. A car approaches and another man (Stephen Spinella, “Milk”, and “Ravenous”) climbs out of the trunk and begins asking a series of random questions of which he provides his own answers; “In the excellent Chain Saw Massacre by Tobe Hooper, why don’t we ever see the characters go to the bathroom or wash their hands like people do in real life? Absolutely no reason. Worse, in The Pianist by Polanski, how come this guy has to hide and live like a bum when he plays the piano so well? Once again the answer is, no reason.” This continues for a few minutes and the man climbs back into the trunk and is driven away. The accountant then hands out the binoculars to a group of spectators who then proceed to watch a tire as it comes to life and cause various animals and people’s heads to explode through the power of telepathy. The tire becomes infatuated with a pretty girl (Roxane Mesquida, “Fat Girl“) and becomes the subject of a police manhunt after murdering two people at a motel. Eventually it leads an exodus of tires as makes its way to the foot of the famous HOLLYWOOD sign, where it seemingly was headed all along.
Why am I telling you the entire plot of “Rubber”? No reason. But if I did have a reason it would be that I needed to tell you the plot in order to tell you what the filmmakers are trying to say and that is that the majority of the people who make up the movie-going public are sheep. They will watch anything you put in front of them as long as it has a recognizable star (you can’t get much more recognizable than a tire) and a plot that is linear and easy to follow. “Hey, let’s go see this movie about that INSERT GENERIC PLOT HERE that stars INSERT GENERIC ACTOR HERE.” The sheep go to their pen aka the multiplex, they get their favorite snacks from the trough–oops—snack bar, and they sit for two hours or more watching their favorite GENERIC MOVIE with their favorite GENERIC ACTOR. Their minds saturated with images, they are helpless as Hollywood takes their hard earned money.
But, there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is the minority. This time it is represented by Man in Wheelchair (Wings Hauser, “The Insider”). He likes what he sees, but he doesn’t necessarily want to go along with the whole shebang. He wants something a little different. He’s not completely satisfied with all these instantly recognizable GENERIC STARS. He doesn’t fall for the tricks. He’s not going to drink the Kool-Aid just because everyone else is doing it.
So, tell me this; why do you think that I would attack the very thing that I love, watching movies? Why do I insult the very thing that I spend hours doing and more hours writing about for no profit whatsoever? It’s probably for the same reasons that Quentin Dupieux (“Wrong”) made this movie.
One of the Spectators is played by Daniel Quinn, who starred in Scanner Cop as a man who could make people’s heads explode with his mind, just as the tire does in this film.
- Rubber Bands Vs. Watermelon (neatorama.com)
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- Words cannot describe this trailer for Quentin Dupieux’s Wrong, just watch it (itsnicethat.com)
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- Goodyear tests tires made with soybean oil (miamiherald.com)
Written and Directed by Lars von Trier
I like to think that I’m a smart person. I like to think that, but sometimes what I think and the way I feel are two different things. Take the film “Antichrist”, for instance. I like to think that the film is about the stages of grief that a person or persons goes through after experiencing the sudden death of a loved one. The couple in this film remains nameless and is only referred to in the credits as He and She. Their names are not important. What’s important is their grief and how they come to terms with it. Then again, maybe I’m just blowing smoke out of my ass.
Lars Von Trier’s “Antichrist” is one of the most visually striking and thematically confusing films I’ve ever watched and I’m not ashamed to admit that I have no idea what this film is about. At first I think that it’s about the stages of grief; but when I get comfortable with that notion the film shifts and I find myself watching a cross between Man vs. Wild, the Salem Witch Trials and a misogynistic rant. Then the film again shifts and becomes the most bizarre murder movie I’ve ever seen. Looking back at what I just wrote I sound like a madman who can’t form a coherent thought or sentence. There’s a lot of smoke coming out of my ass, but there’s no fire.
Instead of trying to figure the film out, maybe I should just give my opinion of it. It’s fucked up. There’s my opinion of it. It’s a fucked up mess of a movie that is both riveting and repulsive and beautiful and pornographic. It is a drama and a horror film and it rolls all of that up into one neat little fucked up masterpiece of a package. The biggest compliment I can give this film is that after it was over all I could think was “What the fuck just happened?”
Eva Green was considered for the leading lady but rejected because her contract was too complex.
The story is divided into four chapters, “Grief”, “Pain (Chaos Reigns)”, “Despair (Gynocide)” and “The Three Beggars”, in addition to a prologue and an epilogue, all displayed over abstract designs by Danish artist Per Kirkeby.
The title was the first thing that was written for the film.
The aria being sung during the Prologue is called Lascia ch’io pianga from Handel’s opera ‘Rodelinda’. The libretto translates from the Italian as: Let me weep my cruel fate, and I sigh for liberty. May sorrow break these chains of my sufferings, for pity’s sake.
- Film: Newswire: Don’t worry, Lars Von Trier’s next movie will feature an abused woman (avclub.com)
- The uses of sacrilege: On Von Trier, Tarkovsky, and “Antichrist” (somecamerunning.typepad.com)
- Cronenberg’s “Crash.” Sex, Connection and Comparisons. (pekkyandthefilms.wordpress.com)
- Charlotte Gainsbourg Signs On to Do More Art Porn for Lars Von Trier (hintmag.com)
- Antichrist – Movie Interpretation (introspheric.com)
- Antichrist Movie review (thebitemagazine.wordpress.com)
- Structures of Depressive Experience in Lars von Trier’s Antichrist and Melancholia (Philosophy Seminar, 1 March 2012) (medicalhumanities.wordpress.com)
- Antichrist. (theslaughteredlamb.wordpress.com)
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Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Story by Alex Mace
Screenplay by David Johnson
Would somebody please tell me what the hell is it with kids in movies? The majority of them are either overly cute or overly creepy. What’s a cinematic parent to do when it comes to adopting a cinematic child? Take Esther, for example. She seems like a sweet little Russian orphan girl. The Coleman family seems happy with her and she appears to be a reasonably good fit with them. But then again putting a great white shark in a swimming pool filled with baby seals seem like a good fit, too. The last home Esther was in burned down under mysterious circumstances. Even if that didn’t happen, she’s still one creepy kid. Normal kids do not bludgeon nuns for any reason whatsoever. They do not push children off of sliding boards and they do not attempt to seduce their daddies. What is a parent to do?
That is where I come in. I have devised a fool proof plan to insure that no one ever has to adopt or give birth to a creepy little bastard ever again. For example, let’s say you are at the adoption agency getting ready to take little Esther home. The conversation would go something like this:
“Alright Mr. and Mrs. Coleman, Esther is a wonderful and bright little girl and I’m sure she will make a precious addition to your family.”
“Well, you know, ever since I stopped drinking and John hasn’t been screwing around, we’ve been looking to adopt a sister for Daniel and Max.”
“Esther will make a lovely sister.”
“Alright, well just show us the KIdfax.”
“The Kidfax; show us the Kidfax.”
“I’m afraid I don’t follow.”
“The Kidfax will show us the complete history of Esther. Did she set the fire on purpose? Does she bludgeon nuns? Or is she (plot twist that will not be mentioned)? So, show us the Kidfax.”
It is that simple. If they had used the Kidfax their lives would have been so much happier. All kidding aside, Orphan is an intense if uneven thriller that keeps you on edge despite traveling into the realm of the ridiculous at times. Isabelle Fuhrman shines as Esther and the rest of the cast takes a back seat to her. This isn’t the creepiest movie about orphans; The Orphanage still holds that honor; but it is creepy nonetheless. If only they had the Kidfax.
Warner Bros. edited the movie’s trailer to remove Esther’s line “It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own” after receiving numerous complaints from adoptive parents and foster care organizations. The line remains in the movie itself.
The orphanage Esther is adopted from is “Saint Mariana’s Home for Girls”. In the Catholic faith, Saint Mariana of Quito is the patron saint for those that have been rejected by religious orders and those who have lost both parents.
According to an interview on FEARnet, Isabelle Fuhrman studied the performances ofGlenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons and Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs to prepare for the role of Esther.
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BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF (Les Pacte des loups)-France-2001
The ‘wow’ factor on this film is at an all time high as we are treated to a spectacular hybrid of a film that should break down under the weight of so many genres; and yet each new scene brings a fresh approach and a new surprise to the viewer. Samuel Le Bihan, Monica Belluci, Vincent Cassel and Philippe Nahon are no strangers to the French horror genres as all four have performed in controversial fright-fests; Le Bihan in Frontier(s), Belluci and Cassel in Irreversible and Nahon in Haute Tension. Brotherhood of the Wolf is the kind of film that I found to be entertaining long after the credits rolled. I found myself replaying scenes in my mind and asking myself ‘What just happened?’
- Top 50 Fav. Flicks (boogiestu.wordpress.com)
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Written and Directed by Xavier Gens
Karina Testa as Yasmine
Samuel Le Bihan as Goetz
Estelle LeFebure as Gilberte
Aurelian Wiik as Alex
David Saracino as Tom
Chems Dahmani as Farid
Maud Forget as Eva
Amelie Daure as Klaudia
Joel LeFrancois as Hans
Patrick Ligardes as Karl
Jean-Pierre Jorris as Von Geisler
After rioting breaks out in the streets of Paris due to the election of a conservative candidate to the French presidency, five friends (Alex, Tom, Farid, Yasmine and her brother Sami) take advantage of the chaos to pull off a robbery. One of the friends, Sami, is shot and Alex and Yasmine, who herself is pregnant, take him to a hospital while Tom and Farid flee to a family-operated inn near the border. The four of them, minus Sami, eventually re-unite at the inn. They may as well have re-united in hell. The family is a crazed, cruel group whose patriach is a former, yet still practicing Nazi. To say that there will be blood is an understatement of monumental proportions. The proper statement would be ‘Wear a raincoat, for there will be blood. Gallons of it.’
With Frontier(s), the French prove once again that they can make as gory and as terrifying a film as any American filmmaker could ever hope to make. The gore in this film comes at you from all sides and in many different way. One character is literally cooked alive, another has his Achilles tendon severed, there is death by table saw, death by shotgun decapitation, yada yada yada, there’s enough blood, gore and death to satisfy the hardcore horror fan. This film was intended to be a part of the 8 Films to Die For at Horrorfest 2007, but was instead released unrated to 10 U.S. theaters for one weekend. It was finally released on DVD as part of the Horrorfest lineup.
I can tell you without any hesitation that I loved this film. Along with Inside, it is one of the most grueling, harrowing and downright nerve-wracking motion pictures that I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. Director Xavier Gens and the amazing cast have delivered a horror film that packs all the wallop of a semi traveling full speed downhill on an icy road. If you can stomach the gore, you need to see this film.
One of the taglines for the film is ‘What are your boundaries?’
Well? Do you have any?
Directed by Alexandre Aja
Written by Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur
Cecile De France as Marie
Maiwenn Le Besco as Alexia
Philippe Nahon as Le tueur
You know how you know that you’re watching a movie that is pretty much going to make you go “what the f**k”? It’s when you see a beat-up pick-up truck parked on a farm road with what appears to be a male driver receiving fellatio from what appears to be a dark-haired female passenger. Then the camera cuts to outside the truck on the driver side. The drivers arm reaches out and in it he has a severed female head. A dark-haired severed female head. The same one he was just getting fellatio from just moments ago. You may now go “what the f**k?”
That’s just part of the insanity that is High Tension, the breakout film from Alexandre Aja that pretty much gave him a career here in the United States. It is the story of two girls, Marie and Alex, who travel to Alex’s parents farm for a weekend visit. They are settled in for the night when the doorbell rings. Alex’s father answers the door and is slashed in the face and then decapitated in a most unconventional way by the madman. Marie hides and is witness to Alex’s mother having her throat brutally slashed. Alex is kidnapped by the killer after her brother is the last person murdered by the psychopath. Marie gives pursuit in a desperate attempt to save her friend.
Ok, I’ll be stopping right there. If I tell you any more about the film it will just give away the entire ending. There is a huge twist in the film that on one hand is pretty damn amazing and on the other hand just a big damn plot hole. Personally, I thought it was a little bit of both. The performances in the film are good. Cecile De France and Philippe Nahon give outstanding performances as Marie and Le tueur (The Killer). The film is a little short on story sometimes, but it makes up for quite well by amping up the gore to a mind-numbing level.
The film was one of the first in the resurgence of French horror films. There have been better since then (Frontier(s) and Inside), but this one, despite it’s flaws, is still a nice little addition to the list.
Directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury
Written by Alexandre Bustillo
Starring Beatrice Dalle as La Femme
Alysson Paradis as Sarah
Nathalie Roussel as Louise
Francois-Regis Marchasson as Jean-Pierre
I read a book about 2 years ago entitled Murder in the Heartland. The book was written by M. William Phelps. It told of the murder by Lisa Montgomery of Bobbie Jo Stinnett. Stinnett was eight months pregnant when Montgomery made her way into the Stinnett home and after strangling her extracted the unborn child from her womb. While I was reading the book I thought there was no way I could ever imagine the horror that this young woman, who had everything to live for, was going through in the final moments before her death. The most disturbing thing about the Stinnett case is that it’s not the first time it has happened. There are at least ten cases in the United States alone of the crime of fetal abduction. In all ten cases the mother was murdered.
I have always said that the most frightening and disturbing horror films are the ones that can actually happen. Inside is such a horror film in that it actually did happen. The film stars Alysson Paradis as Sarah, a young woman pregnant and alone in her home on Christmas Eve. She is grieving her husband who died in a car crash that Sarah was also involved in four months prior. Beatrice Dalle stars as a woman who breaks into Sarah’s home and terrorizes Sarah for reasons that Sarah is not clear of until the final few minutes of the film. The woman (known in the credits as La Femme) brutally murders anyone who comes into the house to try to help Sarah. Finally, it comes down to just this woman and Sarah and her unborn child.
Inside is one of the most disturbing horror films I have ever seen in my life. Yet, I have watched it three times now and will probably watch it again at a later date. The directors, Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, have crafted a film that will surely be considered a classic in the years to come. Alysson Paradis’ is brilliant as Sarah. As for Beatrice Dalle, her performance as La Femme is nothing short of tragic and demented all the way through. You cannot help but feel not only anger, but sorrow for her as well. Dalle brings out both of these characteristics from this tortured soul.
Inside is not a feel good family film. It’s gory, bloody and disturbing. It is not exploitative or sexist. It is a masterpiece.
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