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A group of artists, composed of the young actors Wilfried and Matthieu and the actresses Sophie, Mathilde and the dumb Jeanne, is hired by a millionaire, Axel de Fersen, to present a performance of Little Red Riding Hood in his isolated castle to celebrate the birthday of his grandson. Meanwhile, the police advises that a serial killer is raping and killing young women in the woods around that area. During the night, the group feels trapped and threatened in the castle, guessing who is and where might be the killer. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Extremely stylish and atmospheric - and somewhat boring
I had great expectations for this movie. Since I am a great fan of Dario Argento and his Italian giallos I was thrilled to hear about this french little "giallo-imitation". The beginning with a mother, her child and a murderer is stunning and kept me glued to my seat. After that we are suddenly in the company of five youths (three girls, two guys) in their early twenties and even if they are quite alright for this kind of movie, they are not very interesting.
Things perk up a bit when they arrive to their destination, a beautiful castle somewhere on the french countryside, and meet their host, a rather creepy guy in a wheelchair who makes sexual advances to one of the boys. He has an autistic son who stares ominously throughout the picture and he is quite eerie actually. The movie still looks great and there is a fair amount of tension for half an hour or so.
But after this introduction of almost all of the characters NOTHING HAPPENS for quite a while. We get quite a few scenes with some tension, but no payoff. Since it is a french production, they also throw in some female full frontal nudity in a lesbian love scene for those who like that sort of thing (I don't..). There is a police showing up from nowhere and he disappears just within a few minutes for some reason, only to show up briefly at the end. And the play these youngsters perform is truly abominable. If I had hired these actors I would have asked for a refund!
The final half hour is a little better (when the killings start - they are lensed in a loving, stylish and gory way), but unfortunately the story never gets really exciting or involving. Real suspense is sadly lacking for the most part. There is a great potential buried somewhere here, but apart from the gorgeous visuals and assured directing, it is mostly ignored. The acting is okay I guess (and most of the cast look good!). Clotilde Courau is an adequate heroine, but has tends to laugh hysterically in all the wrong places. It really got on my nerves in the end.
The camera LOVES Vincent Lecoeur but he hasn't a lot to work with like most of the others. * minor spoiler * The only part with some teeth is Axel de Fersen (the wheelchair guy) and actor François Berléand really hams it up entertainingly in that part. And the old horror movie cliché is still valid, a man or woman in a wheelchair certainly has some hidden secrets. *End of spoiler *
After all this you might expect me to dislike this movie. Wrong! I truly enjoyed it for a number of reasons. It's gaudy look and big-budget visuals (it really is a feast for the eyes). One of the first shots is a bird against a slightly cloudy sky and that image is almost worth the price of admission alone. The luxurious and atmospheric score that accompanies all the mayhem is classy and nice. The murder set-pieces that are choreographed with assurance and style. Let's just hope that this director can sink his teeth in a better script next time. Then we might TRULY be able to look forward to a great horror movie, one that even could become a classic within it's genre!
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