calvaire 2004Calvaire (2004)

English Title: Calvaire, The Ordeal

Directed by Fabrice Du Welz
Starring Laurent Lucas, Philippe Nahon and Jackie Berroyer

A Belgian psychological horror film about a singer named Marc Stevens played by Laurent Lucas who whilst travelling from one gig to another only a few days from Christmas breaks down in the middle of nowhere where he stumbles upon agitated local Boris who is looking for his lost dog.

It starts with him singing at an old persons home when after the show a pervy old woman hits on him followed by the nurse who works there who then gives him an envelope containing some, lets say selfies that you wouldn’t put up on facebook.

Who am I kidding. People put these types of pictures up on Facebook and Instagram all the time.

Boris takes Marc to the home of Bartel played by Jackie Berroyer who offers room and food for the stranded singer because he feels a connection as they are fellow ‘performers’ with Bartel being a former stand up comedian and even offers to fix his van.

The next day Marc decides to go for a walk as Bartel works on his van but is warned not to go to the village as they aren’t like them, they aren’t ‘performers’ after all.
Marc agrees but on his walk he stumbles across a farm where he see’s a family watching as one of them performs a sex act on a pig. Meanwhile Bartel back at the house breaks into Marcs van and goes through his belongings.

Later after Marc returns he notices the private adult pictures that were given to him at the old peoples home by the nurse in the house. He attempts to phone for help but the line is dead, just then he hears Bartel vandalising his van and so confronts him.
Bartel attacks Marc knocking him out.
When Marc comes to he finds himself tied to a chair wearing one of Bartels ex wife’s dresses having his hair cut.

Bartel is convinced that Marc is his ex wife and begins to treat him as such.

The performances are good and the characters too. I liked how they all interacted with each other but mostly with Marc.
Director Fabrice Du Welz has stated that there are only two characters in the film, Marc and everyone else is a variation of Bartel as everyone wants to be with Marc regardless of who they think he is. I definitely picked up on this in the film without being aware of the directors intentions.

It is nicely filmed with some beautiful scenery on display. The trailer makes this film seem more fast paced than it actually is, this is a slow moving character driven film but it does pick up it’s pace in the last act.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some intense or simply downright wired scenes with special mention going to the dancing at the pub

Reminds me of the scene with the song We Could Have Been from Bugsy Malone (1976). This is also the only music you hear in the film apart from the opening and the credits.

The story is a bit basic, it only gives you the tiniest snippets about Bartels ex-wife through passing comments, and you don’t see as much of the villagers as I wanted to. It doesn’t quite setup enough of the hidden world the locals inhabit but the trade off means there is very little fluff or pointless subplots.

I enjoyed this one. Not a masterpiece just competent and given the state of horror films these days that makes this worth a viewing to me.
If I’ve learned anything from this film it is the next time I am in Belgium not to go to any villages hidden in the woods, or just never go to Belgium…

I’m joking