16 August 2006 | The_Void
Surreal and bizarre modern highlight!
Belgium might not be one of the world's premier film-making nations, but they sure know how to make a good bizarre exploitation flick with the power to get under your skin! Calvaire might not be a film to please the mainstream horror fan, but for those like me who are into the darker, more extreme side of cinema; this film is a treat indeed. Director Fabrice Du Welz has packed his film with a plethora of bizarre sexual acts; which is best illustrated by the fact that the hinted bestiality isn't all that shocking in comparison to some of the other character's delights. The film works from a very simple premise that has been seen in many other films, but it's what comes after that is important. We centre on Marc Stevens; a singer that is unfortunate enough to break down in the middle of a forest during winter. He takes up residence in a near-by farm house owned by a slightly odd old man, who apparently used to have a comedy act. What Marc doesn't bank on is the insanity of his host, which comes out in the form of an ordeal in which Marc is tortured, beaten and humiliated in just about the strangest ways possible...
The biggest standout of this production is director Fabrice Du Welz, who gives the film credibility in spite of its subject matter with some inventive usage of the camera which succeeds both in creating a dark and ominous atmosphere, as well as generating a surreal tidal wave of disorientation. The way that the camera swirls round the deranged characters at a 'family' scene, for example, helps to give the film a nasty tint that excellently compliments the subject material. It has to be said that, at times, the bizarre sexual practices get a little out of hand, and it's hard to really take seriously; although in a way this helps to further implement the stark and surreal atmosphere, which in turn helps the film to achieve its aim of shocking its audience. The acting isn't a strong point, however, as some of the central performances are more than a little flat; although this isn't a massive problem as exploitation cinema has never been known for great performances, and the set of actors do succeed in getting the film's point across. Overall, this is certainly one of the weirdest films to be released in the last few years and comes highly recommended to fans of cult cinema!