Right after I finished watching this, someone asked me what this film was about and that’s when it struck me that I had nothing in my vocabulary to adequately describe this film. It’s not really a horror movie although it does have some horror elements to it. It’s part-drama focusing on a disintegrating marriage with the kid being the innocent bystander and in retrospect it probably qualifies as a comedy too with some WTF moments that are hilarious in retrospect (pink socks? Huh?) although I don’t really remember laughing while watching the movie.
Luckily for me, I really had no idea what this movie was about going in and I think that blank-slate state of mind made the movie even more fun than it would have been otherwise. So the movie begins with Sam Neill reuniting with his wife, Isabelle Adjani and their son in some bleak European town. Right from the first scene, the movie feels really off-kilter. The performances seem more heightened and it’s really hard to describe this but the conversations seem like they’re being spoken at a higher-pitch than they would be normally. Similarly, their reactions to each other’s actions seem to be just a little disproportionate. And then all the awesomeness sets in. What starts off as slightly off-balance gradually builds up into both intense drama and all this fabulous gory horror that reminded me of Suspiria and Rosemary’s Baby in terms of being both visually really interesting and superbly atmospheric. What is even more amazing is that the intense drama is actually even more horrifying than the actual blood and gore. Initially, I was a little put off by the acting which just seemed strange but soon it becomes clear that this screaming and shouting really fits in with the overall tone of the film. Isabelle Adjani, in particular, is really incredible to watch. Her performance is really physical (no, not the way you’re thinking) and especially the scene in the subway station is just so visceral and unforgettable!
The camerawork is really noticeably cool as well. For one thing, the camera moves around all the time and seems to be following these characters as they climb these stairways, move along long subway corridors and this is so consistent with the general sense of hysteria in the movie overall. Secondly, there are a lot of distorted lenses and such that make everything look taller and longer and more ominous than they would otherwise and I loved the whole look of the film.
All kinds of awesome, really.