CINEMA OF DOOM: Sheitan (2006)

It’s around Christmas time. A group of young club-goers are out celebrating when they meet a strange girl who invites them to her place in the French countryside. They accept, but will soon regret it…

So far, so predictable, right? But when they arrive at the girl’s secluded farmhouse, you begin to see this is more than just another tired iteration of the old ‘partiers get picked-off by a sicko family in some backwater’ trope. Vincent Cassel throws himself into the roll of the housekeeper with such a feral and funny intensity, it becomes difficult to imagine he’s the same debonair guy who played the ballet director in Black Swan. His character, Joseph, is a doll maker and provincial freak with poor social skills. “He looks,” says one of the other characters, “like a dimwitted perv.” And he acts like one too. He’s overly friendly, says racist and inappropriate things, and smiles incessantly, eyes blazing. It’s played for laughs, but it’s also unnerving, and we’re never exactly sure what this guy’s deal is. By the time he gets roaring drunk and tells a satanic nativity story at the dinner table on Christmas Eve (about halfway through the film), the simmering menace is threatening to boil over, and there’s little doubt things are about to go horrifically sideways.

Sheitan is a superb, demented little mindbender from France. Check it out.

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Filed under Cinema of Doom, Weird / Brutal / Extreme Cinema

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