Go call your mom, your dad, your brothers and sisters if you have any, and tell them you love them.
Incendies is a French-Canadian (woo!) film by superstar Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve. I’ve written in the past about some of his films, pretty much all of which I’ve loved. Well, tally one more up for Mr. Villeneuve, because Incendies might just be a new favorite of mine from him.
It kicks off with Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) and Simon Marwan (Maxime Gaudette), Canadian twins of Middle Eastern descent who are meeting at their mother’s notary’s office after she has passed away. Included in their mother Nawal’s (Lubna Azabal) will, are two envelopes, one for their father and one for their brother. The friction starts immediately as the Marwans never knew their presumably dead father and have never had another sibling. Jeanne travels to their mother’s birthplace, an unspecified country in the Middle East to trace the steps of her mother’s life so she can solve the mystery of her missing father and brother. Simon, reluctant at first, eventually joins her with Lebel, the aforementioned notary. While in the Middle East learning about their strange family history from locals who seem to resent them on sight, they slowly begin learning a dark secret about their family that they couldn’t even have imagined.
Not too long ago I dipped my toes into the New French Extremity movement by watching the home invasion gorefest, À L’interieur. Seeing how Shudder has given me access to the big three French Extremity films, I decided to check out one of the ones that blew the door wide open for films like À L’interieur and Martyrs to enter horror’s filmography, Alexandre Aja’s twisted slasher: Haute Tension.
Haute Tension (High Tension in English, and sometimes known as Switchblade Romance) is the second full length film by Alexandre Aja who is best known for directing the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes. It stars a tomboyish Cécil de France and Maïwenn Le Besco as the punk rocker Marie and the preppy Alex, two college girls who are retreating to Alex’s family’s country home to study for their upcoming exams. Horror movie does and horror movies do, and their peaceful, quiet time away from civilization turns into a Hellish nightmare.
A mysterious man invades Alex’s family’s home, systematically slaughtering them before kidnapping Alex and driving off with her chained up in the back of his rusted truck. Marie stows away in the back of the vehicle and it’s up to her to figure out how to get her and her friend away from the killer and off to safety.
I signed up for the horror streaming service Shudder (it’s pretty much Netflix for horror fans). I was hesitant to add yet another subscription based payment to by credit card every month, but at five bucks a month, I eventually caved and signed up. What really drew me in was their selection. Being one of the few remaining video store clerks in existence I’ve witnessed the ridiculous price mark-ups that are put on old out of print horror flicks or anything being re-released by Arrow Video, and seeing titles like The Mutilator, Blood Rage, and Microwave Massacre on Shudder warmed my shrivelled horror geek heart enough to throw money their way. I’ve watched a couple movies using Shudder over the last few weeks that are worth writing about, so I’ll spare a review of Shudder itself for another post but until then, here are reviews of two of the goriest movies I’ve ever seen in my life (and they couldn’t be any more different). (more…)