Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury.

Starring Paul Hamy, Virginie Ledoyen, Sandrine Bonnaire.

Horror, France, 108 minutes.


Reviewed as part of Glasgow FrightFest 2024.


A series of shocking, grisly murders take place in a small French village amid a mountainous landscape. Simultaneously, several children have gone missing, one of them turning out to be the son of a couple who have become the latest victims to have met their end in spectacularly gruesome fashion. Turning up on the scene to investigate if the missing children could be linked to a series of abductions across the country is police captain Franck, turning up at the same time as big city detective Elisabeth who has been called into investigate the murders. Despite bristling against each other, and the resentful small town small police force, they find their investigations melding together when they discover the local legend of a monstrous figure who feeds on the souls of the dead.


The latest feature from directing duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury sees them travel even further from their New Extremity roots with this police procedural thriller. Fans of INSIDE need not despair too much however as there is still plenty of sadistic violence, both implied and very much on display, in spectacularly bloody style. At the same time, they flex their creative muscles by focusing their viewpoint on a more plot driven mystery/thriller vein. This results in a solid if not spectacular potboiler with a more sadistic edge than most that also reminds of Matthieu Kassovitz pivoting from arthouse smash LA HAINE to the more crowd-pleasing fare of THE CRIMSON RIVERS, a film which has a similar scenic backdrop to this.


A few red herrings are laid throughout the plot, some of which pay off more satisfyingly than others by the films end thanks to some howlingly obvious clues dropped along the way. Despite the films ambitions it is never as smart as it thinks it is and one subplot involving a crashed plane feels frustratingly underdeveloped and perhaps cut or trimmed down from a previous draft of the script for budgetary reasons.


These misgivings aside the film rattles along and manages to satisfy in its own undemanding way with flashes of Bustillo and Maury’s gory heyday; a chase on foot  resulting in one nicely staged accident and the revelation of a murderous flashback being a couple of prime examples on offer here manage to give the film an entertainingly sadistic edge over your usual run of the mill Euro-mysteries that can be found on BBC4 or All4 in their droves. A passable evening’s bloody entertainment then that helps serve as a reminder of how this directing duo were once able to shock and entertain simultaneously. Perhaps the next effort will be a more successful display of what we know they are capable of.


Ian MacLeod.


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