Thursday, January 6, 2011

Deep in the Woods (2000)

Made some years before the big French horror-boom, Lionel Delplanque’s Deep in the Woods is almost forgotten. Could be because the international distributors successfully hid it under a generic slasher-campaign and dumped it directly on DVD. The lack of the excessive gore that made the French famous is also probably one reason for this movie to be hidden away from the horror fans. But it still is one gorgeous movie, violent and with more Giallo-vibes than slasher!

A young troupe of actors is invited to a secluded castle belonging to millionaire Axel de Fersen (François Berléand). They’re there to perform for the grandchild of de Fersen, an autistic boy named Nicolas (Thibault Truffert). The only one else in the castle is Stephané (Denis Lavant), the slightly perverted handyman. Obviously something is wrong and after Nicolas stabs himself with a fork, the evening is over and everyone resides to their rooms. Except the killer, who finds the wolf-costume used in the play and starts killing them one by one…

This sounds like normal slasher-routine, and to a point it is. But the visuals are so stunning, the kinder trauma leading up the murders is nasty and the atmosphere is very European. The killings are more stylish than gory, even if everything is quite graphic of course. I love the way Delplanque uses the Red Riding Hood-theme, from small details like the doll that is important to the killer, to the play that the actors are performing. The killer is dressed like the wolf, and it has a very fairy tale-style. Mystic, almost dreamlike.

Not all questions are answered, which for me makes it even better. I don’t like to have everything written in big letters. For example, the police sneaks around the forest looking for a serialrapist/murderer, but it’s never clear if this is one of the characters we meet. Sure, it could be one of them, but it’s never told out loud.

In a cameo we also see Marie Trintignant, the daughter of Jean-Louis Trintignant. Three years later she died, killed either with purpose or by accident by her rockstar-boyfriend, Bertrand Cantat.

An underrated predecessor to the bigger and more popular French horror movies, and it’s a stunning work of horror – maybe not the most violent, or original, but well worthy it’s place among the best of its kind.

1 comment:

Richard of DM said...

I was so glad I took a chance and picked up a very, very cheap copy of Deep in the Woods. This is one of those bizarre and cool little films that very few people have seen.