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quietearth [Film Festival 01.11.10] Canada movie trailer news horror thriller

Year: 2009
Directors: Éric Tessier
Writers: Patrick Senécal
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 8 out of 10

[Editor's note: This is some holdover coverage from the Leeds International Film Festival]

I don't think I expected to like 5150 Elm's Way all that much, so it came as a very welcome surprise that it is in fact, an incredibly well directed and acted thriller that blew me away. The story is deceptively simple: Film student Yannick is making a documentary about his new neighbourhood when a black cat causes him to crash his bike. Knocking on the door of local taxi driver Jacques, he wanders into the house at 5150 Elm's Way, a place you really don't want to go snooping about. It seems that the fanatical Christian and part-time vigilante Jacques was in the middle of teaching the local drug dealer a lesson when Yannick interrupted them, and now Yannick faces kidnapping in order to protect Jacques' secret hobby. As Jacques and his family try to continue a normal routine, Yannick is locked in the spare room, and since he is considered 'Righteous', and therefor won't be killed, he isn't going anywhere.

The first thing that struck me about 5150 Elm's Way, is how polished and skillfully made it is. It might sound strange, but solid and well crafted direction is such a pleasure to watch when viewing a movie that's origins are outside of Hollywood, and coupled with an intelligent script and terrific actors, it pretty much ticks every box in my mind. The premise might make it sound like another torture flick, with 80 minutes of Yannick having his skin torn-off and bleeding from his genitals (I half expect this when watching any trendy modern horror, a la Mum & Dad), but nothing could be further from the truth, such is the brains in the writing. Yannick is certainly held against his will, but the service includes three meals a day, bathroom breaks and time to read his worn copy of Alice in Wonderland, while continuing his documentary too. Much of the dialogue is geared towards questioning the moral, the righteous and the unrighteous, and humanity's role in the natural order of things. Just as Yannick helped Jacques' daughter in the opening scenes, as she was being bullied, Jacque himself will travel to a suspected paedophile's house, and bring his own brand of justice. Yannick questions Jacques' actions, "So what did this one do? Smoke a joint? Steal a CD?", but since wife Maude saw him helping their young daughter, she insists that he is good, and in the terms of the family logic, they can't harm him, only play chess with him. Intense characterisation comes in the form of the older daughter Michelle, who idolises her father and would like to take over the family 'business', but just might not have the guts. Her jealousy and rivalry with newcomer Yannick serves some great humour; as she attacks him, Jacque wrestles a chair from her and intones, "No Michelle! No unnecessary violence!"

One of the most pleasing aspects of the film is Yannicks deteriorating state of mind, and all the visual techniques employed to show it. At first he is lucid and frightened, but as he becomes accustomed to his new life, hallucinations and a fractured sense of reality become increasingly common, and as Jacques makes a deal with him; to win at chess and gain his freedom, things become very freaky indeed. During their chess matches Yannick mentally transports the game to a sort of ethereal, heavenly plane, in which Jacques bleeds buckets from his eyes and ears as Yannick improves his game. It's a simple special effect, but it works marvelously well.

I could go on, indeed I could write about everything that made this film work, but then there would be no surprise left for you. What I will say is that if you get the chance, absolutely sign-up for this one. The direction, script, sound design and especially the performances from leads Marc-André Grondin as Yannick, and Normand D'Amour as Jacques, are brilliant.

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FICTIS (12 years ago) Reply

It is an adaptation, scripted by Patrick Senecal of one of his own books, the book is very good indeed, I hope the film meets it as the first adaptation Tessier made of a Senecal novel was awful.


Anonymous (12 years ago) Reply

I just watched this film and it blew me away. Being from Quebec myself, I have often cringed at Quebecois attempts at horror but this movie grabbed in the first 15 minutes and didn't let go. The writing, directing and acting was incredible. This is the best horror film I have seen since Martyrs. Seek this one out. You won't regret it.

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