The accolades sprinkled upon French new horror1 are due to films such as Ils 2006, Frontier(s) 2007 and Martyrs 2008. As much as I hated Martyrs I recognise its attempt to tell a different story and push audience boundaries. Therefore I don’t regard the people who like it as reprobates – unlike, for example, the people who watch Fox News.
No accolades should be thrown at La Meute 2011. It’s French horror but shouldn’t be included in this New Wave2. La Meute exists like an idiot child; just because the sign says ‘Hilton’ doesn’t mean people want to sleep there.
Punk rock chick – or something French equivalent – Charlotte picks up hitchhiker Max. They pit stop at a café for some café. That’s when Max disappears in the men’s room. Charlotte goes looking for him.
Something finds her.
The infuriation this film provokes can be seen perversely by watching the actors. All the main characters are delivered with involved performances. Lead Emilie Dequenne and her support play it straight. The same can’t be said for the thesps who portray a biker gang. I suppose they’d rather be in Shakespeare.
|Ooh la la: Emilie Dequenne|
Dequenne especially shines because her role is such a haphazard. She stops driving the plot a third of the way through and no one replaces her. As Charlotte she is reduced to screaming and gurgling like a smackhead in an adult video. Buyer beware: this is torture porn.
Writer-director Frank Richard is the charlatan at fault. The story begins and continues with cliché then swerves into fantasia. There are inexplicable developments and plot holes that would swallow the dinosaurs. I can’t believe a horror film would fade out over important plot points then refer back to them in flashback.
There are monsters in this film. Their makeup is satisfactory but their raison d’être is perfunctory. There are no parameters for their capabilities and no reason for them to behave the way they do given their backstory – which also sucks. There’s a bait-and-switch false ending while the epilogue is extemporaneous. I hated Martyrs for its sadism. I hate myself for La Meute.
|Yolande Moreau: talented|
What this film lacks is a producer like Art Linson. David Fincher made Fight Club 1999 (with Linson). David Fincher made Zodiac 2007 (without Linson). A producer with bite could have turned the script and the editing around into something coherent. It would have been possible because what’s onscreen is visually appetising. Shame about the aftertaste.
La Meute fails the litmus test as entertainment. The indiscipline displayed might have turned me into a rom-com fan but for the hope that this is the last torture porn flick to be inflicted on the public. The French New Wave of horror may well continue but the acolytes are reaching. There hasn’t been a Ju-on: The Grude 2003 or The Orphanage 2007 or Let the Right One In 2008.
Perhaps La Meute fits well in their canon after all.
La Meute is released in the US on 27th September via VOD.
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