Directed by Fabrice Du Welz
Written by Fabrice Du Welz & Romain Protat
Cinematography by Benoît Debie
Cast: Laurent Lucas, Jackie Berroyer, Philippe Nahon, Jean-Luc Couchard & Brigitte Lahaie

2004/87 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
2.35:1 anamorphic/French/France/NTSC Region 1

Review from the Palm Pictures DVD

After performing at a nursing home, traveling singer/performer Marc Stevens (Lucas) is on his way to a Christmas gig. Unfortunately, he gets lost in the countryside and to make things worse his van breaks down. Soon enough, he meets a strange man who's looking for his lost dog. Boris (Couchard) direct him the way to an inn. There he meets Mr. Bartel(Berroyer), the inn keeper.

The next morning while wandering around the small village, something that Bartel told Marc not to do, he comes across a rather strange and disgusting event. Once he returns to the inn, things are not what they seemed. Nothing, but nothing will prepare Marc for the horror that are about to happen.

Fabrice Du Welz's directorial debut is one amazingly disturbing, dark, tense, humiliating and dirty cinematic experience. The movie is superbly told in a grim way and technically crafted by cinematographer Benoît Debie (who shot Gaspar Noé's IRREVERSIBLE and Dario Argento's THE CARD PLAYER).

There is no doubt that Welz is a fan of classic 1970s cinema like DELIVERANCE and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Acclaimed at the Critics' Week section at Cannes in 2004 and winner of the Grand Jury and International Critic prize at the Gerardmer Festival, CALVAIRE is exactly the kind of movie that stays under your skin. A survival at it's best!

Legendary French porn star of the '70s, Brigitte Lahaie stars as a sexually fustrated nurse in love with Marc. It's interesting to note that originally Philippe Nahon (SEUL CONTRE TOUS, LE PACTE DES LOUPS, HAUTE TENSION) was choosed as Bartel but ended up with a secondary role. The name Bartel was choosen as an homage to director Paul Bartel of DEATH RACE 2000 and EATING RAOUL. Another actor from IRREVERSIBLE, Jo Prestia known as Le Tenia in Noé's masterpiece, is also part of the cast.

The movie features one very creepy and macabre dancing sequence that stayed with me for days. An interesting element is that there is no actual musical score to the film, giving it a whole realistic atmosphere. Shot in only 35 days, the project slowly started in the director's mind three years earlier. This is not a movie for the mainstream audience, and believe there is nothing wrong with that. One thing that is for sure is that I'm not about to visit any Belgian countryside.

CALVAIRE crawls his way into DVD thanks to Palm Pictures. I am reviewing the screener copy which from what I've been told is not the final product. The movie is presented in its 2.35:1 aspect ratio, is anamorphic and looks terrific. There is no compression, artifacts or defects. The colors are rich and nicely saturated. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is, thankfully, presented in it's original French. Its loud, crisp and clear which makes great uses of sound editor Frédéric Meert's work. English subtitles are available.

The only extra on this screener is the American trailer. The movie is separated in 12 chapters and features static menus. In the UK edition released by Tartan there is an interview with Welz, and his 1999 short, A WONDERFUL LOVE. In France, the movie was released by Studio Canal.

"What's the worst that could happen?"

(English title = THE ORDEAL)





This Film Features:

 Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2006. ©

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