Directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury. Stars Alysson Paradis as Sarah and Béatrice Dalle as The Woman. Also stars Jean-Baptiste Tabourin as Matthieu, Nathalie Roussel as Louise and François-Régis Marchasson as Jean-Pierre.
OK, first thing I want to address is the division of opinion about this film. I’ve read a lot of bad reviews, usually talking about the film being unrealistic and senseless, full of plot holes, characters doing senseless things. I thought it would only be fair to mention this, I mean, you might hate it yourself. On the other hand the film gets a lot of good reviews, outstanding reviews. I guess that means it’s a love it or hate it film. Also, you should apparently avoid this film if you’re pregnant, I’m not sure if this is a candid reference to things that happen in the film or genuine health advice; I’m not going to comment on that but I thought I’d better mention it.
Now, this is one of a sort of unholy trinity of French horror films that came out at roughly the same time; this, Frontier(s) (2007) and Martyrs (2008). This my personal favourite of the three. I couldn’t decide for a while whether I preferred this or Martyrs. They are three very different films which makes it difficult to place one above the other. I think Martyrs generally comes out on top. In my opinion they’re three outstanding films and all well worth a watch. Whether or not they’ll upset you depends I suppose on how used to the extreme end of horror you are. I’m not in any doubt that there are sicker films out there but you’d probably come across these first as they’re a lot closer to the mainstream than that stuff. I don’t just mean gore, although there’s plenty of gore between the three, loads, I also mean psychologically, pretty harrowing stuff and no need to suffer unnecessarily if you’re not into this level of horror.
So, what’s it about?
My first thought, as ever, is just watch it and find out for yourself. In this day and age it’s easy for people with the internet to go and find out every single detail before they decide whether or not to watch a film, especially when its reputation virtually carries a health warning. I’ve done this myself on a few older films as I like to totally avoid animal cruelty. But it does ruin a film doing this. Maybe reading about it isn’t the same as watching it but spoilers are spoilers.
Four months after a car crash in which her husband Matthieu (Jean-Baptiste Tabourin) was killed, a pregnant woman called Sarah (Alysson Paradis) is having an ultrasound scan and going to be admitted to hospital the following day, Christmas Day, to have her baby. Sarah goes home and that evening a woman (Béatrice Dalle) comes to the door saying she wants to make a quick phone call as her car has broken down. Sarah won’t let the woman in and the woman starts getting nasty, she knows Sarah’s husband is dead, she knows Sarah by name. Sarah calls the police who come and tell her the woman has gone but a patrol will call around later on. The woman is far from gone and returns later; she gets in, she attacks Sarah, Sarah locks herself in the bathroom. That’s as much as I’m going to say about the plot.
Now, the violence in this film is ferocious. I’m a proud owner of the fully uncut version and if you haven’t seen it I would recommend making sure that’s the version you see. Once this film gets properly going it’s full-on and you may find yourself having to look away in places but trust me, it’s just better if you don’t lol. Béatrice Dalle owns this film, she’s simply phenomenal. Alysson Paradis is also excellent but Béatrice Dalle is… fuck! I think the fact a pregnant woman, a day or so from labor, is the protagonist in this fucked-up nightmare is definitely the most shocking aspect of the whole film, if you’ve seen The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) (2011) there’s a similarly disturbing link between pregnancy and violence, and it’s just wrong, but brave filmmaking definitely, BUT, this goes much further with that idea. But, there’s more to this film than the violence and the gore, it’s actually a really pacy thriller with some knockout scenes, as I said the performances are excellent and talk about dark, this is so dark, unflinchingly dark, it’ll change your view of what a horror film can be.
But, if you’re going to worry about plot holes and the like, and to be honest I didn’t see any of that, I was too busy enjoying it maybe, then maybe you won’t like it as much as I do. But don’t hate it for ‘going there’, the best horror films will mess with your head, that’s the point of horror. Applaud it’s courage.