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Parisian murder detective commissioner Pierre Niemans is called to Gueron, a self-sufficient, prestigious university in a mountain valley, to investigate the murder on 32-year old professor and librarian Rémy Caillois, whose corpse was found 50 meters high on a steep mountain side, naked, horribly covered in bruises and bleeding wounds, the result of some five hours of bestial torture including quasi-surgical amputation of hands cauterized to prevent bleeding to death- and eyes. Guernon is a closed society of virtually incestuous scientists, de facto succeeding to their parents' posts; the eye-doctor, formerly on the staff, says hereditary genetic diseases are the price of such elitism, but in recent years spread to the simple farming families. Inspector Max Kerkerian examines two crimes in the town: a school break-in with theft of old photos and archive papers as well as a graveyard desecration of Judith Herault, the daughter of local nun Andrée, who lives in a dark cell since 15 ... Written by
The novel by Jean-Cristophe Grangè on which this film is based is simply one of the best thrillers ever written,in the same league as The Silence of the Lambs and Misery,and with the help of writer/director Mathieu Kassovitz(who was also supposed to be one of the actors)the author has successfully brought his masterpiece to the screen.
From the very beginning,thanks to the location and Bruno Coulais'unsettling score,we realize French people can make good horror thrillers: Pierre Niemans(Jean Reno) is in Grenoble to solve a couple of weird and brutal murders,while Max Kerkerian(Vincent Cassel)investigates a damaged tomb somewhere else. Soon they discover the two cases are connected,and the two men have to run against the clock in order to uncover the awful truth about what's been going on in the local university for years.
The book has been simplified(the first chapter is entirely missing,as well as some of the details about Cassel's case),but the movie manages to be very interesting,and the chemistry between Reno and Cassel is great.
Special praise for Dominique Sanda,her creepy cameo being the film's best sequence(Sissy Spacek appears in a similar scene in The Ring 2).
Only defect:why did they make the sequel?
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