Calvaire

aka THE ORDEAL

Movie Review by EDF

Starring: Laurent Lucas, Jackie Berroyer, Philippe Nahon, Jean-Luc Couchard
Director: Fabrice Du Welz

Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas), a singer/performer, appears yearly at an old people’s home. After a particular show at the hospital, one of the nurses gives a big hug to Marc and curiously says that she will miss him. Driving along, Marc becomes lost driving through a forest and his van breaks down. He comes across Boris (Jean-Luc Couchard) who is out looking for his dog Bella and Marc asks him where the nearest inn might be. Boris tells Marc to follow him but he must keep his mouth shut. They come across the inn and a Mr Bartel (Jackie Berroyer) lets Marc stay the night. The following morning, Bartel tows the van back and offers to fix it. Marc decides to go for a walk while Bartel fixes his van and Bartel strongly recommends that Marc does not stray into the nearest village.

While Marc is on his walk, Bartel crowbars open the back of the van and looks through the contents. Meanwhile, Marc comes across some locals in a barn doing some sexual acts with the animals. When Marc returns to the inn, he tells Bartel that he hasn’t seen anybody on his walk. Bartel informs him that he thinks there is a problem with the van’s battery and has rung the local mechanic who will deliver a new battery the next day.

The following morning, in anticipation of the mechanic arriving, Marc wakes up early and cannot find Bartel. Marc tries the phone but it is not working and he discovers that his van has been tampered with. Bartel returns, attacks Marc, burns his van and locks him up. Bartel dresses Marc up in his wife’s old dress and cuts off all his hair. The next day, Bartel takes a tied up Marc out to the forest and he manages to escape. Will Bartel catch up with Marc or will Marc get help from the local villagers?

As you can imagine events turn into a DELIVERANCE type twist that, if this were an American movie, would have been more believable. There are some unanswered questions regarding Marc’s character. He does not seem to be comfortable with the nurse’s advances and he lives his life like a loner. The rest of the characters are pure nut jobs and they play it quite subtle. The scenes are well lit and add to the whole creepiness of the local surroundings. At times the movie suffers from a lot of the walking from point A to point B, which drags out the movie when the running time is already less than 90 minutes. The most surreal moment to look out for is when the locals engage in an unintentionally hilarious dancing scene which goes to prove that men really cannot dance. Well, this lot anyway can’t dance. Even though CALVAIRE is classed as a horror movie, it is more psychological than gore.

4 out of 6 stars

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