“Ogre”, “Inexorable”… the best and worst French fantasy films

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5. “The night devoured the world”, by Dominique Rocher (2018)

Sam wakes up one “beautiful” morning in his Parisian apartment and realizes that zombies have invaded the city. Would he be the last human worthy of the name to evolve in the capital? Dominique Rocher, like other young French directors, is trying to revitalize fantastic cinema in France. Influenced by the American John Carpenter, he signs here an above-average film (admittedly very low), establishes a disturbing atmosphere and directs two irreproachable actors: Anders Danielsen Lie and Golshifteh Farahani.

4. “Ogre”, by Arnaud Malherbe (2022)

Chloé (Ana Girardot), a teacher, tries to rebuild her life in an isolated village in the Morvan with her 8-year-old son who suffers from deafness. There, she discovers a disturbing universe and meets an attractive doctor who may be hiding a horrifying double identity… In Ogre, Arnaud Malherbe directs a feverish story that flirts with the fantastic to better probe the psychological gray areas of its characters. Honorable result. Released April 20.

3. “Inexorable”, by Fabrice Du Welz (2022)

In this film released in theaters a fortnight ago, the Belgian Fabrice Du Welz (author, among others, of Calvary and Worship) features a writer lacking inspiration and his wealthy wife confronted with an enigmatic and bloodthirsty young girl. Benoît Poelvoorde and Mélanie Doutey shiver together in this disturbing fiction about characters confronted with the gray areas of their family identity and their lies.

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2. “The Cloud”, by Just Philippot (2020)

Can we reconcile the codes of horror cinema, this genre which is rarely distinguished by its loftiness, and the ambitions of social fiction? Yes, answers Just Philippot in the cloud, a first film which features a farmer ready to do anything to escape the spiral of over-indebtedness, including by indulging in “unnatural” manipulations. With its predatory insects and its heroine caught in the trap of fatal economic logic, Just Philippot signs an original and disturbing fantastico-political film. A genre film… the thrilling genre.

1. “Eyes without a face”, by Georges Franju (1960)

Despite their commendable efforts, today’s young filmmakers will find it difficult to match this masterpiece of black poetry directed by the brilliant Georges Franju in the late 1950s. By following step by step the disturbing adventures of a surgeon (Pierre Brasseur) obsessed with reconstructing his daughter’s disfigured face, the filmmaker signs a monument of horror which is also and above all a great film about madness. Often imitated, never equaled.

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FLOPS

5. “High Voltage”, by Alexandre Aja (2003)

A student preparing for her exams in a large isolated house faces harrowing events and terrifying murders. The hemoglobin is at the party in this predictable fantastic film from the first to the last shot where Cécile de France and Maïwenn play at scaring us. In vain.

4. “Trouble Every Day”, by Claire Denis (2001)

Horror in the style of cerebral auteur cinema… In this film that is both contemplative and haemoglobinous about characters lost in Paris and in their fantasies, Claire Denis juggles, if we dare say so, with vampirism and cannibalism. Béatrice Dalle and Vincent Gallo play the lead roles in this globally grotesque film.

3. “Teddy”, by Ludovic and Zoran Boukherma (2020)

Somewhere in the Pyrénées-Orientales, a marginal young man sees his destiny turned upside down when he is attacked by a mysterious animal… The new French fantastic cinema between thrill and humour. Despite its noble intentions, the Boukherma brothers’ film, too insistent, fails on both counts. Neither disturbing nor funny.

2. “Titanium”, by Julia Ducournau (2021)

The bloody adventures of a serial killer who got pregnant from a car… In this grueling fiction where excessive gory and authorist pretensions go hand in hand, Julia Ducournau delivers a few heavy “messages” in warlike feminism and an apology for deconstructed identities. This pretentious film was honored with a Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2021. Alas.

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1. “A knife in the heart”, by Yann Gonzalez (2018)

A film producer finances porn films with evocative titles: Anal Fury, Sperm and fresh water… Soon, the actors of these cheap fictions are victims of a serial killer. Yann Gonzalez (Meetings after midnight) loves genre cinema and fantasy. Alas, we touch the bottom of the horror with this Knife in the heart which is overwhelmed by excesses, clumsiness and where the actors (including Vanessa Paradis) seem to wonder what they are doing there. A good question.

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“Ogre”, “Inexorable”… the best and worst French fantasy films