As every year, the most interesting French encounter with fantastic cinema took place in the mountains of the Vosges. After a digital release due to Covid, everyone was back in Gérardmer for the 29th time. As usual, a bunch of gold nuggets were shown. If we could see old cult things in it – Eyes without face by Georges Franju Possession by Andrzej Zulawski – there was something to be excited about in official competition and out of competition.
Here are our five real favorites, five movies that deserve your attention and whose names you should remember.
Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon
Basically, we were customers. The return of Iranian filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour, who had fascinated us with her first feature film (a vampire story in Iran, A girl goes home alone at night) and who had confirmed his love for the stranger with his other (The bad batch, a post-apo adventure with a XXL cast), could only enchant us. The first returns from Venice made us drool, and we were right in being impatient.
Imagine a strange hipster neon pop mood on the edge of one spring breakers, where Mona Lisa, a young woman with psychokinesis powers, escapes from her mental hospital in the depths of Louisiana and lands in New Orleans. There she meets a charismatic drug dealer with an incredible style (Ed Skrein, especially fit), an officer ready to do anything to stop her (Craig Robinson, yes, Darryl from The office), a stripper who wants to use his powers to earn a small fortune (Kate Hudson) and a particularly endearing metal kid. Aesthetically excellent, the proposal is not only daring and original: it is simply successful.
Favorite among the festivals where, with each passage, he made a rather rare critical and public hit (and yet we are talking about the Cannes Film Festival and, to a large extent, the L’Étrange Festival), The innocent was the most watched film. And, spoiler: he also traumatized the entire room and left with the award for the public and critical jury.
On paper, however, this feature film is not traumatic. To shorten it, The innocent is crossed by one Chronicle without found footage but with children. Childish cruelty, the desire to push his forces to the limit, all with a polished image and amazing children, transforms this first film by Eskil Vogt (as we know from the scripts he wrote for Joachim Sort) into a little nugget of gold, which all adored, and who will blow more than one.
Here we love to do. We are in Gérardmer, the reverse would be a bit confusing. But there is slack and limb. A piece of intestine has been seen coming out of a cleansed stomach for three seconds, and for almost an hour one is confronted with images as surprising as they are shocking, from an eye stuck out of an umbrella to a zombie eating an Achilles tendon to a man who had his skin torn off his face after hot frying oil melted his face.
The sadness, a Taiwanese film that left its mark on Gérardmer’s audience, belongs to this second category. To the point where the three cited examples moreover come from said long, and are only a glimpse of what can happen during those 99 minutes among the bloodiest and dirtiest that you will see in your life as a cinefil.
Particularly harsh, also for its history – in connection with a pandemic caused by a virus, which everyone considers a simple cold, a variant arrives that turns the polluted into zombies who thirst for blood and sexual intercourse of any kind. Orgies of zombies that put the health situation in perspective and that, when one is a fan of the genre, cause a controlled alternation of disgust and cheerfulness.
Advice anyway, which smells of experience: we advise you not to look for it after a raclette.
It was one of the most anticipated films in the selection, and with good reason: Paco Plaza has a good reputation and enjoys a small franchise that quickly became cult (Rec, just that), and has previously proven that he can perfectly handle the image and the light to bring out the horror where it was not expected. His new long, Abuelaen, followed reputation for being particularly effective. And that is absolutely it.
The principle is quite simple on paper: an orphan has to return to Madrid to take care of his grandmother, who seems to be losing her mind. Little by little, the peculiarities of everyday life are explained with buried secrets, and the grandmother becomes eerie and frightening. In addition to spending the last half hour hiding behind our mask for fear of what will emerge from the bedroom, the film is an honest success, exactly where the sauce rises, plays on the spectator’s expectations like shit. puppet master.
The wisest among you will have quickly guessed the end, but who cares: We have not been so scared in front of a painting for a long time, and it feels good. Not for nothing did he walk away with the jury prize.
It was not fashionable to be a Scandinavian kid this year in Gérardmer. Because after the toddlers with X-Mens powers, we also discovered another story as eerie as it is scary. This time it is about a Finnish teenager, whose seemingly perfect family situation gradually deteriorates, at the same time as she discovers a strange egg.
Winner of the Grand Prize and Young Jury Prize, Hanna Bergholm’s first film (which was released at the same time at Sundance) is a peculiarity. Not the most subtle, but who knows how to draw on a legacy from cinema bis to spawn a really dirty giant human bird and provide some great horror moments. A long one that deserves a look without hesitation.