Written by: TheFecalKid
A few years ago, Japanese horror films were all the rage. Not even so much the Japanese versions, but rather the American remakes which did well at the box office amongst teenage girls and their unlucky dates. I suppose we've found a new type of filmmaker to exploit now, as America has found its next obsession - French filmmakers. For those of you who've seen Haute Tension and The Hills Have Eyes remake, you are well aware that this obsession isn't all bad. It is in this wave of French films that newcomers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo have written and filmed one of the most brutal and terrifying films since - in my opinion - Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door.
Tonight's story begins with Sarah (Alysson Paradis), a young, pregnant photographer getting into a hideous car accident which claims her husband's life. Jump ahead 4 months to Christmas Eve. Sarah, who fortunately didn't lose the baby, is 9 months pregnant and ready to give birth, whether induced labour is required or not. Back at home, all is going well - as well as can be expected - until she is awoken by an unexpected knock at her door. A mysterious woman (Béatrice Dalle) is asking to come inside, and after being refused, she smashes a window and disappears. Sarah obviously calls the police, who tell her that they believe the woman will not return, but they will swing by every so often to check up on her.
Certain that she is safe, Sarah goes to bed with the hopes that this incident is over. She couldn't be more wrong. Sleeping soundly in her bed, she is woken this time by slashes across her belly and face from a massive pair of shears. She fights her way to the bathroom, where she barricades herself and waits. We don't know who this woman is, or where she came from. All we know is that she wants the baby inside of Sarah, and nothing short of death is going to stop her.
I don't know how many of you follow the horror scene, but in the past week or so, this movie has been quite the topic at the proverbial water cooler. Dimension Extreme has an exclusive deal with Blockbuster, meaning that their films are only available to rent at this one particular franchise. I'm not too familiar with the US, but up here in Canada, Blockbuster is the biggest movie rental chain in the country. What seems to be the problem, you might ask yourself. Well as it would seem, Blockbuster has cut out a staggering 7 minutes from the film, leaving the folks who only rent films to not get their full money's worth. I'm not intending to rant about censorship, and things of that ilk, but c'mon folks. The company is called Dimension Extreme; that should mean something.
As for the movie itself, brilliant. I haven't enjoyed a horror film this much in a long time. There are so many elements to this film which make it a genre masterpiece, it is almost hard to list them all. Since I'm such a nice guy however, I shall do my very best. First things first, the acting. The two leading ladies, who are essentially the only two people in the film, do a fantastic job of bringing this story to life. You don't quite know who to root for, or who to sympathize with, as both women are struggling and fighting for what they think is right. Which brings me to the script. It's simple, believable, takes place all in one location, and written so that again, you don't know who the "bad guy" really is. The characters develop very quickly, and even though you can figure out why the woman is harassing Sarah, it's not touched upon until the final moments.
When I said this was one of the most terrifying films I'd ever seen, I meant it. What I forgot to mention however, is that it's also one of the most blood-filled, cringe inducing films I've ever seen. Everyone involved is brutalized in one way or another, and it never once feels excessive or inappropriate. There are stabbings, slashings, shootings, piercings, and even some burnings; all of which fit into the story ever so nicely. From start to finish, this movie is one giant bloodbath, and without spoiling too much, lets just say that there is one of the finest gunshot wounds I have ever seen in film. You know how there's been a wave of CGI gore effects in movies lately? I can point out Day of the Dead and The Rage as the first two that come to mind. I am so glad that this film didn't go that route. It made good use of prosthetics, props and bucket loads of the red stuff. And I do mean bucket loads. By the end of the film, the entire house looked like a war zone.
Directors Maury and Bustillo have created a fantastic addition to the horror genre. After checking their IMDb credits, I was amazed to find this was their first film, and from the looks of things, they have nothing else lined up afterwards. Much like the writing/directing duo of Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur, these men know that what makes a horror movie is suspense and atmosphere. Since it takes place in such a small area, the film has a very panicked and claustrophobic feel to it. Coupled with the low lit, ambient glow of the house, it makes for a very eerie setting. It's also a very modest suburban home, which I think adds to the beauty of the location, as most people can easily identify with the concept of your home being the safest place you can think of being.
All in all, a bloody fantastic film. A little on the short side, but I think making it too much longer would have just been a time filler. It was everything I wanted it to be, and I can only hope that directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury get the recognition they rightfully deserve for this. This is solid proof what a good premise, a good script, and some believable, realistic acting can do for the horror genre. A well deserved 10/10.