Showing posts with label belgium. Show all posts
Showing posts with label belgium. Show all posts

4 May 2015

Dead by Dawn 2015 - Cub

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Altitude Film Distribution
Rating: 18
Dead By Dawn 2015
DVD Release Date:
July/August 2015 (UK)
Jonas Govaerts
Maurice Luijten, Evelien Bosmans, Titus De Voogdt

At the screening of Jonas Govaerts’ Cub, Dead by Dawn festival director Adele Hartley voiced her belief that the Belgians are making some of the most fucked up films out there. Cub isn't exactly an argument against that. Where De Poel took a quietly-mounting thriller route, Cub takes the camping sub-genre on a comparatively bombastic journey of adventurous violence, proving that the woods are not quite done as a horror locale.

In it, a group of young scouts are taken deep into the woods by their three adolescent councilors. A lonely boy named Sam (Maurice Luijten) does his best to join in but finds the mystery of Kai, a local monster, far more intriguing.

After a sharp and excellently played intro the film goes on to tell one of the most enjoyable and inventive woods-related horrors in years. Cub stands out because it exploits a growing trend of violence towards children, making the violence far weightier but ensuring the children are more substantial characters. An interesting network of power plays between adults and children enforce the disturbing notion of cyclical violence to an often horrific finale.

Another key strength in the film is its eye for great images, the giant wicker wasps’ nest Kai calls home is an incredible sight, as is the filthy underground network of tunnels which come into play for the finale. Cub is a film about forgotten children and it makes its point with equally forgotten places. The dense underground is clearly an adult’s den, where the dream-like hive is almost defiantly a child’s. The camp has its own dangerous boundaries, ones that spell doom for those who cross them, but also those who live by them.

Jon Watts Clown surprised me with its graphic violence towards children, but Cub reserves its right until the perfect moment, when Govaerts orchestrates a moment of horror so casually you wonder if you missed something. But that’s the case with much of the film: information is drip-fed so that the audience is left to join up some of the dots, a rare trick in contemporary slashers, but a welcome one nonetheless. Sure the film wobbles in its last act, seemingly just to prove a labored point, but there’s enough treats here to make it worth your while.

Jonas Govaerts manages to craft a sharp and original take on the woods-slasher in his impressive debut feature. Great kills, power plays, and a terrific performance from Luijten keep Cub on edge from start to finish.

Scott Clark

26 February 2014

GFF 2014 Review -The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears (L'étrange couleur des larmes de ton corps)

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Thriller, World Cinema, Giallo
Metrodome (UK)
21st February 2014 (Glasgow Film Festival)
11th April 2014 (UK Cinema)
Rating: 18(UK)
Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani
Klaus Tange, Ursula Bedena, Joe Koener

Following on from their stunning debut feature Amer, Helen Cattet and Bruno Forzani deliver another breath-taking giallo-inspired thriller, pushing the envelope even further in terms of narrative coherency and cinematic beauty.

If you’re looking for a straightforward thriller narrative wrapped in giallo style, you won’t find it here. Cattet and Forzani throw narrative coherency to the wind and gleefully launch into an intensive exploration of giallo trope, ensuring that anyone desperate for an obvious answer to the mysteries of this labyrinthine film will be sorely disappointed. Though Strange Colour does throw narrative scraps to the audience, ensuring that some vague concept of what’s going on is there, as a whole it’s more connected by theme. Obsession and passion appear at every twist and turn, whilst death and violence follow hot on their heels. The French auteurs cleverly leave little time for reflection or digestion; the symbols and ultra-violence come thick and fast in a Freudian head-fuck sure to fill numerous forums with panicked jibber-jabber as to what it’s all about.

This is a film populated by the ghosts of the giallo genre: sex mad sirens and murderous she-witches hide in the shadows of the gorgeous flat block, whilst killers in black leather seems to erupt out the walls to orchestrate scenes of visceral brutality with shimmering cut-throat razors. It’s been a while since stabbing looked this brutal. Arguably the skilled duo are covering a lot of the ground they did in Amer and even though it never comes across as tired, it would be interesting to see something totally different next.

Strange Colour actually surpasses all Cattet and Forzani’s previous works in terms of cinematography and sound. The rich day-glow noir that so excellently served their purposes in Amer and their entry to The ABC’s of Death (O is for Orgasm), is here perfected. The sound is rich, intrusive, stunning, and arguably more intimidating than any visual in the feature. The talented duo should beware that their strong sense of style has the capacity to get in the way of other aspects of the film. Long sequences of more vanguard imagery and narrative have the potential to detract rather than add to the film as a whole. In a feature so proud to leave its narrative unannounced for the viewer’s delectation, it is still possible to push the confusion too far.

Vagina-shaped stab wounds, black fedoras, mysterious figures in red veils, its all here in this lovingly told uber-giallo feature. By the end you won’t really know what’s happening, but that doesn’t matter.  Every shot is perfect, every sound so tangible it makes your skin crawl, whilst the confusion and horror at its heart make it one of the most entrancing experiences you’ll have this year.


Scott Clark

3 January 2014

Bizarre Terror Roams In The Trailer For Nikolas List's Tombville

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From body horror to a bizarre townfolk's welcome to the first trailer for Nikolas List's Tombville. If any wannabe filmmaker thinks taking the route into feature films via short film is a non starter you may just have to look at your plans again. History has proven many established directors have taken the short film route with success ,welcome to Tombville.

Last time we met Belgium director List was away back in 2006 with his body horror Ange, a beautifully crafted macabre film that convinced many that this director has a positive future. In Tombville  we follow a young man who finds himself trapped in the town of 'Tombville' but it's a town of bizarre residents who are not willing to show a escape route.

Short film into feature film is not a easy transition and List hasn't dived headfirst into his debut feature with a big budget proving that a micro budget can easily show off his talents perfectly. Check out the trailer courtesy of the good people at Twitch.

3 December 2013

GFF 2014 - Amer Duo Go Avant Garde For New Film The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears Watch Trailer [Updated]

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In 2009 Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani baffled but also mesmerized cinephiles with their arthouse giallo horror 'Amer' in 2014 they will be returning with their follow up The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears. A new trailer has now arrived online for the film which shows we will be once again engaged in those exquisite stylings.

The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears is a psychological nightmarish journey for a man (Klaus Tange)looking for his wife who has mysteriously disappeared from their Parisian flat which was locked from the inside out. During his journey he discovers there has been other people disappearing from the apartment block so is the apartment block the key to his answers?

If your a fan of the neo giallo sub genre from the word from the film's festival The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears looks like it will push the boundaries with in the genre. Everyone from  David Lynch even a little Berbarian Sound Studio and myself trained as a graphic designer at university i'm awestrucked.

No word on a UK release date been set but expect 2014 release possibly the film making an appearance at the Glasgow or London Film4 Frightfest before its released. If your French expect the film March 2014.

[Update - 21st January The film has been announced as one of the film's part of 2014 Glasgow Film Festival, hopefully we can see this one, stay tuned]
source: TwitchFilm

31 January 2013

Bullhead Review

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In February 2011 Bullhead, the directing debut of Michaël R. Roskam, was released in Belgian cinemas and enjoyed success with both viewers and critics. Later that year it was selected and lauded by multiple international festivals. The director Roskam appeared on the “Ten directors to watch” list of Variety and it’s rumored that Hollywood is interested in Matthias Schoenaerts, who plays the lead in the film. But all this praise for a rather small Belgian movie pales in comparison to the news released a few days ago. Bullhead has been nominated for the “Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film”. It is in the light of this latest bit of praise that I went to revisit this tale of animals and hormones but above all of one’s humanity.

When you hear the opening monologue of the movie you already sense you’re in for something rather special. Beneath the surface it already hints at the deeper themes of the movie in a profound but delicate way.

You might’ve heard about Schoenaerts who gained 25 kilos of muscle for the role. And while this may sound impressive one might argue that the role of an actor is not (only) one of physical transformation. But transformation is more than physical the movement, the look, the tics but predominantly the eyes. The praise Schoenaerts presentation received is no hyperbole, it is a full and complete character. And quite a meaty one at that.

The movie has excellent pace there is never a dull moment as the story slowly unfolds and brings you deeper and deeper in its ever escalating tragedy. The finale especially is a powerful piece of cinematography, it almost feels hallucinatory, with powerful acting and beautiful camerawork. Speaking of which, the camerawork throughout the whole movie is splendid it doesn’t take the forefront by quick montages and flashes of imagery but just produces powerful images with panning slowly and making great use of depth of field which creates ghostlike visions that suite the overall tone and story rather nicely. The music has the same use keeping a low profile; but still contributing in acquiring that overall powerful emotional feel.

Well after all this praise I have to admit the movie is not without its faults. The gags with the two Walloon mechanics are in the vain of a typical French comedy (be it of a lesser comedic quality) which is indeed an acquired taste. And some might say they feel a bit out of place.

You might’ve noticed I didn’t provide a synopsis of the story as is customary in reviews. I did this for two reasons.What I particularly like about the movie is its deeper underlying story. At first it might seem like a regular cops an gangster movie with some side story, but it is quite a bit more than that. It is a movie which touches on a few difficult themes and an intricate way. It is a story about the border between feeling human and the bestial. What it is like, to not feel normal and the obsessions it creates. And it tells this using a strong, hypnotic narrative, supported by equally strong visuals. A movie with balls, powerful but fragile at the same time.

Lieven Glovers


Release Date: 1st February 2013 (UK)

*This is a reprint of review posted 4th February 2012

9 August 2012

Livid DVD Review

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★★★ 1/2

Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo have already made a sound debut in the form of 2007’s Inside, so their second feature, Livid, is due to cause some excitement amongst horror fans. The pair’s second film is an atmospheric and visually inventive take on the ‘old haunted house story’ and among other things probably one of the few films this year that will really prove how terrifying obscenely old people can be.

The story follows Lucie (Chloe Coullaud) on her first day as an in-home caregiver Lucie’s new job takes an interesting turn with the revelation that oen of her patients, the comatose Mrs. Jessel, has a treasure of unknown value stashed somewhere in her desolate house. Lucie, Her boyfriend William (Felix Moati), and William’s brother Ben (Jeremy Kapone), decide to break into the house on Halloween night to find the treasure and turn their fortunes around. The house has different ideas and not long after entering the trio are trapped and in the throes of a supernatural nightmare.

Maury and Bustillo understand the importance of believable characters and spend a good time at the start of the piece introducing us to their lead character Lucie , and her world.  Understanding her hopes and dreams, and those of the two boys, is vital for the scare factor of the film since even though we know they are trespassing and robbing we also know that the money is a way out of their dreary world. The film is centred on the end of life, the purgatory of not just the coma state, or old-age, but of squashed dreams so the money is an opportunity to avoid ending up like one of Lucie’s patients. The film’s first half flaunts a good pace and enough menace to keep the viewer intrigued, the scares are kept in check and the three main characters all work off each other well. Long shots of Mrs. Jessel’s  vegetative form hooked up to life support unnerve the viewer and create a surprising amount of tension which is never relinquished with a cheap jump or “eyes-flicker-open” moment.  The discovery of just what the treasure is,cements the fairy tale quality and leads to a bizarre supernatural mind-screw of a second act.

Unfortunately the film loses grip on itself by the end. The escalation of scares degrades to a messy muddle pushing the film into a gory conclusion it never seemed destined for. Some of the blatant images and sequences stand out as uncomfortable in a film that, for the most part, identifies the grotesque and eerie with care. The sequence where Ben suddenly ends up in a filthy room with no doors is genius but what follows in the room seems ham-fisted and unconnected. The construction of the relationships and tension is skilful, but the set-up is squandered through hasty conclusions to characters and a half-assed attempt at more concepts. Eventually the film comes across as something between Guillermo Del Toro’s dark fairy tale world, and The Skeleton Key (2005)it pushes for a strong gothic element that comes flawlessly until the film aims big. If it had followed certain routes from earlier on it could have cemented itself as a particular type of horror, but it seems wary of being lost in a sub-genre. Still, it’s a charming and striking horror with more than its fair share of unsettling ideas.

Scott Clark

DVD/BD Release Date: 13th August 2012 (UK)
Directed By: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Cast:Chloé Coulloud, Félix Moati , Jérémy Kapone