My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.

This week I focused on French horror films and thrillers programmed on the Shudder streaming service.


Bastards (2013)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

What a haunting film. It definitely lingers with me for days.

Denis has such a unique way of weaving a narrative. Her stories sound simple on paper but with her execution, they’re enigmatic (at least for this viewer). This film of hers I connected with to a larger extent because of Vincent Lindon. His soulful performance is one more in a long list of incredible work from the last ten years. To me, he’s the French Bogart with that face that has been through it all, had his heart wrecked a hundred times. Think about it, he’s the only actor these days who could even stand a chance in a new version of To Have and Have Not or Casablanca.

Back to the film, Denis presents a bleak picture of humanity and when I got to the end it made sense while Shudder programmed this with other French Extreme Horror films. It’s about that other kind of horror, the real kind.

Watched on Shudder.


Trouble Every Day (2001)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars


It’s no surprise I’m still processing this Claire Denis film days later. That alone proves that it has some possessive effect on the viewer. Is it great? I’m not sure. It’s a meditative and momentarily extreme horror film. Vincent Gallo is perfect casting. I’ll give the filmmaker that much.

On a side note, it drives me crazy how Shudder, Criterion, and some of these other streaming services spoil some of their films in the story summaries. I mean, their description of this one is more than most viewers could ascertain from the entire film. A movie like this should be approached with as little information as possible and trying to frame its ambiguous nature into a cohesive couple sentences is a huge mistake on the platform’s part.

Watched on Shudder.


Knife + Heart (2018)

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

I’m loving the new French terror collection on Shudder. Though I’m no fan of the giallo subgenre, the first half of this film plays more like early Refn to me. It focuses on character instead of style and the relationships between these men and women are well-established. The porn making business is also a fresh setting for a suspense/horror film and I was pretty hooked until midway through the picture.

When Paradis goes out in the country, the movie falls apart. The explanation of the killer’s background becomes overly complex and contrived, the film starts to choose style over story, and what follows unfortunately loses the well-founded weight of the first half. Oh well, it’s still an interesting and original horror film.

Watched on Shudder.


Them (2006)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

I’ve enjoyed a brief look at the New French Extremity movement, this film being my latest viewing.

What I like about this picture is that, unlike Martyrs, it places little emphasis on gore. Instead, it plays into old school suspense with a new disturbing tone and nihilistic outlook. The last third of the film is particularly good and though I tend to dislike movies that are this bleak, it worked here for me. I can’t say more without ruining it but in a world with so much random violence occurring every day and a clear issue with mental health in young people, I think these filmmakers and the French overall were onto something with their new wave of horror.

Watched on Shudder