Sunday, 6 June 2010

Horreur Française

The unwelcome prospect of a US remake of Martyrs has reared it's ugly head again, with Bloody Disgusting reporting recently that a screenwriter is attached who will no doubt do what he can to dilute and castrate Pascal Laugier's nihilistic, brutal masterpiece.

Meanwhile, what's going on with the burgeoning French horror new-wave? From '02 - '08 France produced a small handful of horror films that towered above the far more prolific output of most other major markets. While Hollywood greedily devours itself (and the film industries of the rest of the planet) like Ouroboros; Malefique, High Tension, Inside, Martyrs and the Belgian/French co-productions Calvaire and Vinyan proved that horror can still be artful (and beautiful), original, intelligent and genuinely shocking & disturbing. Even "second tier" French productions like Ils and Frontière(s) were better than 95% of the swill pouring out of the US.

In the wake of this recent legacy of great films, has the French horror juggernaut stalled? Recent entries have certainly failed to impress - from the underwhelming (Mutants), to the downright shitty (La Horde). So, what is the next great film screening at Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol? It could be writer/director Franck Richard's French/Belgian co-production The Pack (La Meute). Richard's debut (as both writer and director) has looked interesting and promising from the outset, and recently scored a very positive review over at Twitch that you can read here. Let's hope it delivers!


Have a listen to the OST for Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury's damn-near perfect shocker À l'intérieur (Inside). It is by genre regular François-Eudes Chanfrault, whose other horror credits include High Tension, Vinyan and some work on Aja's The Hills Have Eyes. When I first listened to this soundtrack it didn't really grab me, but hearing it again later in a more patient and receptive mood I was hypnotised by it. It's a subtle, understated horror score (a rarity in this age of in-your-face bombast), drenched in gloomy, sombre atmosphere and menace. As with Seppuku Paradigm's haunting soundtrack for
Martyrs, this score is filled with a melancholy sense of pathos that perfectly mirrors the tragic destiny of the films characters... in this case: The Woman, Sarah and both their unborn babies...


  1. Great piece Aylmer.
    Yeah, France (and Spain) have really brought horror back to Europe in an extremely impressive way these last years. I hope that is stay's so for a while too.

    And there's no hope in hell for a Americanised Martyrs' as we all know that they will blow the lid off the mystique of that film and force in explanations, new subplots and most likely change the ending into some fairytale shitfest. That original is stunning.

    - I'm not gonna plug myself with a link out, but if your interested theres a pretty lengthy text on the movie filed in august 09 on my blog. :)

  2. "they will blow the lid off the mystique of that film and force in explanations, new subplots and most likely change the ending into some fairytale shitfest"

    Oh man, you NAILED it there. Add an over-the-top orchestral score, CGI fx for "La Suppliciée" and "La Créature" and Angelina Jolie as Mademoiselle!

    Agreed that Spanish horror in the last decade has been very impressive too. I also think that England has been producing a great many well above average horror movies and some real classics as well.

    I don't want to disparage the US horror scene too much though. There are some great young american directors making good original horror.

    Oh, and feel free to plug away, doesn't bother me at all.

  3. Thanks for this. I've seen a few of these movies but I'll try to catch the rest of them...