A young couple move into an apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.
In London, Belgian immigrant Carol Ledoux shares an apartment with her older sister Helen, and works as a manicurist at a beauty salon. Helen uses the word "sensitive" to describe Carol's overall demeanor, which is almost like she walks around in a daze, rarely speaking up about anything. When she does speak up, it generally is about something against one of those few issues on which she obsesses, such as Helen's boyfriend Michael's invasion of her space at the apartment. That specific issue may be more about men in general than just Michael's actions, as witnessed by Carol being agitated by hearing Helen and Michael's lovemaking, and she not being able to rebuff the advances effectively of a male suitor, Colin, who is infatuated with her. One of those other obsessive issues is noticing cracks and always wanting to fix them. While Helen and Michael leave on a vacation to Pisa, Italy, Carol chooses largely to lock herself in the apartment, ditching work. There, she is almost hypnotized... Written by
Sometimes not saying anything in a horror movie, and letting a character lose his/her mind in a setting can really get the goosebumps going, more so than with the recent 'shockers' of late that all seem to take place within a haunted house or have some kind of ghostly secret. The most frightening thing about Repulsion, Roman Polanski's first film in English (and filmed in England) is that everything that can terrify the audience is within the lead character's mind. In this case, the young Catherine Deneuve plays Carole, a part-time manicurist who spends most of her time inside of her apartment she shares with her sister. Polanski piles on the atmosphere like fudge on a sundae- we literally get thrust inside of her mind as she goes into this down-ward spiral.
It would be one thing if the film was a great success just because of Polanski's tricks with adding true fear into the audience, but Deneuve is a big factor in this too. It may be a triumph of under-acting, or even over-acting from a point of view. All through the movie she plays her paranoia and sexual frustration (if not repression) almost like a kind of doll, following orders we can't quite understand. Sometimes she interacts or sees things that are strange (i.e. a cooked and eaten rabbit; the cracks in the walls springing up), but then as the film winds into its climax, she becomes perfected into this kind of traumatized, crazed creature. She is a beautiful person who plays a not too beautiful being, but she somehow pulls it off, even better than in her role in Belle du Jour. Bottom line, if you're tired of getting disappointed with the latest horror films where unexplained phenomena in a house terrorize its main character(s), take a look at this film and see if it will leave you when you're finished with it. A+
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