27 April 2010 | Coventry
A Psychological Nightmare on "Ormes" Street
"5150, Rue des Ormes" is a strong and compulsory thriller, but it's not exactly the type of film I would recommend in case you're searching for a relaxing late-night movie or something fun to watch together with a group of drunken friends. This is a seriously intense and harsh film that manages to make you feel genuinely uncomfortable and this in spite of the use of familiar themes, derivative plot twists and predictable character developments. How does director Eric Tessier pull that off? Quite simply, by maintaining a continuously monotonous, almost unbearably calm even, narrative and unnecessarily stretching the emotionally painful sequences. There's absolutely nothing in "5150, Rue Des Ormes" that you haven't seen a dozen of times before (including a serial killer who exclusively targets victims that deserve punishment, the "apprentice" killer and a prisoner who gradually grows psychopathic as well) but the atmosphere is grim and the tone of the film is overall extremely unpleasant, like a thriller ought to be. Film student Yannick Bérubé is so proud about getting accepted at the Quebec university that he shoots a little video about his new neighborhood to show the home front. He has a banal bike accident at the titular address, but when asking the seemingly friendly proprietor Jacques for assistance Yannick witnesses something that he wasn't supposed to witness. For you see, Jacques is a chess-obsessed serial killer who wants to make the world a better place by killing drug dealers, pedophiles and other scum. Obviously he can't allow Yannick to interfere with his divine mission, or with the training of his adolescent daughter, and thus Jacques locks him up in the house. As weeks pass by and Yannick's chances to escape are getting slimmer, it becomes clear that Jacques is preparing some kind of masterwork in his basement. The story of "5150, Rue des Ormes" becomes increasingly absorbing and the ambiance more embittering, but the last half hour holds a few surprises in store that are most of all unexpectedly cruel and shocking. Although quite far-fetched and illogical, the climax is truly nightmarish and is guaranteed to leave a sour aftertaste in your stomach. These are "qualities" that I can only applaud. It's like a horror-shocker with dramatic and film-noir allures. The movie also becomes extra peculiar because of the typically Quebecois dialogs – which are practically incomprehensible even if you're fluent in French – and the fantastic performances by relatively unknown but devoted native Canadian actors, like Norman D'Amour in the role of atypical and Mylène St. Sauveur as his luscious but unsympathetic teenage daughter.