Calvaire (The Ordeal) (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner07/12/2005

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 94 mins

A local film for local people. Calvaire is an enjoyably nasty horror flick with an extremely dark sense of humour and a superb central performance from Laurent Lucas.

The Background
Say what you like about French actor Laurent Lucas (Harry, He’s Here To Help), he certainly has an eye for interesting projects. What with this and the upcoming Lemming, he’s in two of the weirdest films of the year. Calvaire was a hit with audiences at the Edinburgh Film Festival earlier this year and it looks set to pick up a cult following now that it’s finally getting a decent cinema release.

The Story
Lucas plays Marc Stevens, an itinerant lounge singer whose performances inspire middle-aged women to slip him naked pictures of themselves. On his way to a Christmas gig, Marc gets lost in the woods and his van suddenly breaks down. A local loony (Jean-Luc Couchard) directs him to the Bartel B&B, where Marc meets the seemingly helpful inn-keeper, Monsieur Bartel (Jackie Berroyer).

Despite Bartel’s warnings, Marc ventures into the local village, where he comes across a rather disturbing ritual. When he tries to leave, he finds that Bartel has other ideas, and that’s before the other locals show up.

The Good
Calvaire comes across like Deliverance meets The League of Gentlemen, and director co-writer Fabrice du Welz has clearly spent an unhealthy amount of time watching 70s horror classics. The first half of the film builds up an incredibly tense and suspenseful atmosphere, before bursting into full-blown horror in the second half.

The Great
The performances are excellent. Lucas plays it completely straight and his deadpan expressions fail to register the true horror of his situation until it’s too late. Similarly, Berroyer is deeply creepy and the locals themselves will ensure you never drive through the Belgian countryside again.

The Conclusion
In short, Calvaire is a delightfully weird horror flick with a jet-black sense of humour and some genuinely creepy characters. It’s almost certainly destined for future cult movie status and, as such, deserves to be seen on the big screen. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Calvaire (The Ordeal) (18)
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Content updated: 17/02/2019 06:32

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