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Calvaire

Director: Fabrice du Welz

FRANCE| 2004| FRENCH W/ENGLISH SUBTITLES| COLOUR| 90 MINS


Calvaire is a blunt shocker that has sparked comparisons to the holy triptych of ‘survival’ horror films: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Straw Dogs and Deliverance.Prepare yourself as first-time director Fabrice du Welz and co-screenwriter Romain Protat lead you down a path that gets darker with every step.
Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas) is a shy, small-time singer who works the cabaret circuit at old folks’ homes. His gentle manner and boyish looks garner unwanted romantic attention from his adoring public (including Euro-porn legend Brigitte Lahaie). On his way to a Christmas engagement, his van breaks down in a forest. He finds a rundown inn to stay the night. Mr. Bartel (Jackie Berroyer), the innkeeper, is a failed comic who connects with the fellow ‘artist’ and laments his wife, who left him years earlier. Bartel promises to call in a mechanic, but in his eyes the lost crooner is a surrogate for his long-lost love. Soon, however, Marc’s captor is not his only problem after the local villagers learn that Bartel’s ‘wife’ has returned.
Calvaire fits into a curious place between art house experimentalism and blood-drenched horror shocker: a Belgian Gothic version of ‘Little Red Riding Hood,’ with an undercurrent of grim comedy. Under du Welz’s direction are a cast and crew whose credentials will alert cinephiles to the impending doom: the stark contrast of dark and red bleeding light comes from the camera of Benoît Debie, cinematographer on Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible.

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