It’s funny. I’ve always dug looking at the horror movie mags but rarely do I buy them. Time sensitive information seems a waste of $10 these days. Read about this movie that’s been announced, see these early pictures, then no sooner do you turn around but Time has gone all Roger Waters on you* and the movie is out and you see it and then before you even realize it the DVD is out and then the sequel is announced and …
And well, you are back to where you started.
Recently however I bought an issue of Rue Morgue based on the Lux Interior piece (R.I.P. you crazy motherfucker) and what I found was this: I loved the writing. I read the entire mag in a day and based on one article in particular I became frantic to see a movie that had just hit video, a Belgian film called VINYAN. Now, a good friend had also mentioned the film to me recently, so it was on my radar. But after reading the review, and especially after seeing the film was scored by Francois Eudes-Chanfrult (who also did the brilliant scores for Inside and High Tension).
After seeing Vinyan I must say I like Rue Morgue even more – with this given coverage and earlier this year (last year?) their touting LET THE RIGHT ONE IN as the best horror flick of the year I have to say, the folks at that mag have the right idea about horror.
It doesn’t always have to be knives and entrails (although it is always nice when it is and it’s done right).
Vinyan reminded me a lot of Brad Anderson’s films, especially Transsiberian, which regular readers of my rants will remember was my #1 last year until The Wrestler and Slumdog gently nudged it out of place. And let me stress again, Vinyan is not a horror film in the classic sense of horror films. What it is is an absolutely beautifully shot film about obsession and loss by Belgian filmmaker Fabrice Du Welz.
Without going too much into it we start with a couple who, six months after the Tsunami that devastated Thailand and it’s neighbors are still there – they lost their son in the disaster and the mother (brilliantly played by Emmanuelle Beart) at least has never given up hope that he is still alive.
Did I say hope? Try completely assured, as in to the point that when some aide workers show them and a room full of potential donators a scouting video of children in the jungle Janet becomes convinced that a shadowy image in the background of the film is indeed their son, Joshua. From here she literally forces her husband Paul (Rufus Sewell) to accompany her as she stakes out an underworld connection to smuggle them into Burma**. From there, as you no doubt can imagine, the couples’ path becomes dangerous and almost halucinatory as Janet’s obsession leads to visions and ghosts.
If you’ve ever gotten lost in another country you know the sheer terror that it can cause and I thought the film captured this ‘where are we and what the hell are we going to do’ panic wonderfully. Beart is simply haunting and Sewell stakes her up with his ‘I believe you/you’re insane and going to get us killed’ protrayal of a man who does not want to give up on his wife so soon after losing his son.
As I said earlier Vinyan is not a horror movie per se but that does not mean there are not horrific images and scenarios in it. What’s more terrifying to a person – being chased through a city by an axe-wielding zombie vampire or getting lost in a strange and violent country, hundreds of miles into uncharted jungle where the unseen is the unknown and literally anything can be waiting just outside your campsite for you? Well, maybe both, but this is the kind of horror we don’t see explored on film all that often compared to the former.
The thing I loved most about Vinyan (beside the score – did I mention how wonderful it is?) was the photography. DP Benoit Debie and his crew are able to capture some breathtaking images of storms and the jungle – atmospherics that really bring out the idea of how people who live in the jungle live with the jungle and all its elements, including the kinds of storms that can sweep up and take thousands of people away into the unknown. Of special note is a beach ritual where candles are fastened to balloons of some kind and set adrift high into the night sky – offerings to help guide those the Tsunami took safely into the next life.
Not sure if I’m going to buy this one right away – I definitely will when I have the time and money to put everything that deserves to be in ‘The Collection’ actually into it – until then another rental is probably due in about six months or when I get a thuderstorm here in SoCal (I won’t hold my fucking breath on that one) and want to continue the mood.
* ‘Racing around to come up behind you again’, thank you very much for the brilliant metaphor Mr. Waters
** Anyone who saw the Bill Rambo trailer last year will know from sly’s gruff and grumbled warnings to Darla, ahem, I mean Julie Benz that, ‘you don’t go into Burma’.
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