Written by: jmh314
Foutaise sainte! I'm not too good with French but I believe that means holy crap! That is the first thing I can think of saying in regards to the French film Sheitan. This movie is completely insane and seriously messes with your head. I am not quite sure if first time French filmmaker Kim Chapiron was on anything when doing this film but if not then something really strange is going on in France. Sheitan chews your mind up and spits it back out only to stomp on whats left of it. It's a film filled with creepy characters, creepy settings, and a solid plot with enough taboo subjects to make your head spin.
The problem with a film like this is that there is so much to talk about but you don't want to give anything away by doing so. I feel this is one of those films where the less you know going in the better. Unfortunately that makes reviewing this film harder for me, but I am going to do my best to not give the good and shocking stuff away.
Sheitan opens in a loud French dance club. Three friends Bart, Thai, and Ladj are there but are too poor to drink much. They are friends with a bartender named Yasmine who has her friend Eve visiting. Yasmine is getting off work, and Bart gets into a fight and thrown out so now this group of five is outside trying to figure out where to go. Eve suggests her place in the countryside, so they all pile in Ladj's car and take the journey on out to her place.
Upon arriving in the countryside, the car gets stuck in the mud. The group receives help from the caretaker of Eve's family's home who's name is Joseph. Joseph seems like he has a couple of screws loose and creeps some of the guys out. After getting unstuck, they head to Eve's big old country house. The house is very large and somewhat creepy. It has a doll making room with creepy half put together dolls, and an attic filled with finished dolls and puppets. The rest of the house is how you would imagine an old creepy county house to be: big, dark, old fashioned, and mysterious.
The group decide to head further into the countryside up to the small part of a town where there are hot springs to swim in. Upon arriving at the town the group encounters Joseph again and a group of creepy country bumpkins. From the town whore to the strange possible retarded boy, these characters definately have a mysteriously strange way about them. After some shenanigans and a small mishap in the hot springs with the locals, the group heads back to the house.
Upon returning back at the house things begin to take creepy turns as they all begin to see things that they aren't quite sure are really there. And with Joseph in the house their nerves are even more shattered as this strange caretaker seems to be completely off his rocker. After a seemingly fun dinner, things start to spiral out of control and the group has no idea what they are in for.
What helped suck me in was the atmosphere as the house was one of those places that is both creepy and appealing at the same time. It was wonderfully shot and used everything in the surroundings to create a dark yet comforting feel. There wasn't much as far as special effects, but the props were great. The many dolls in the house were eerie in their own ways and helped the house to maintain a disturbing presence. Without the two doll rooms the house would have been nothing more than a dark country mansion. These dolls were what kept the house unpleasantly intriguing.
There is no question writer/director created a visually appealing movie, but he also did a great job with the characters. Olivier Bartélémy who played Bart did a great job as playing the neurotic tough guy who is really nothing more than a scared pushover. He did a good job giving Bart depth and making him an intriguing character. And what more can be said about Vincent Cassel's performance as Joseph other than "wow!" I don't remember the last time I ever saw a character who was so nasty and menacing yet had a certain charm to him. Every time he was on screen you just wondered what was he going to do next. He had this grin that was truly sinister yet came off as the smile of a guy who is just enjoying having company over. It was truly a great and memorable character; one that I didn't know if I should be scared of or feel feel sorry for.
Alright, so Sheitan is by no means a perfect film but I guarantee that it is such a mind fuck that you wont even care about it's few shortcomings. It is a film that pulls you in and holds you tight and keeps you there as everything beings to unravel. It all builds up to an ending that hits you with one last punch to the stomach just to make sure you leave feeling uneasy. It could be by far one of the most intriguing foreign films you will ever see. It will leave a stamp of the character Joseph in your mind forever, that is if there is any left of your mind when it's all over with.