2007 Certificate: 18

Synopsis

Hostel meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre by way of Deliverance when four Parisian delinquents flee to the countryside and hole up in a guest house/abattoir run by a bunch of neo-Nazis still keen on the concept of the master race. While gorehounds will lap this up, those less keen on torture-porn should give it a swerve. Writer-director Xavier Gens went on to make the game-based action thriller Hitman.

Director

  • Xavier Gens

Cast

  • Patrick Ligardes

  • Karina Testa

  • David Saracino

  • Aurelian Wiik

Review

Going to the cinema can be an uncomfortable experience - lumpy seats, sticky carpets, mobile phones going off. Lardbuckets gorging on popcorn.

Yet French writer/director Xavier Gens wants to crank up the discomfort: "The aim is to grab you by the balls at the start and then squeeze harder and harder until they are totally crushed." Zut alors!

To this end he's offered up another weary slice of torture porn - a Gallic entry in an already numbing procession which includes Hostel, Saw and Captivity.

A quartet of Parisian sink estate delinquents - three nutters and a pregnant harpie - use rioting against the newly-elected right-wing regime as cover for a heist.

Fleeing the city with a hold-all stuffed with Euros, they wind up on the Dutch border at a B&B which appears to have been moved brick-by-brick from the Eastern European location used for Hostel.

Anyway, they get a salacious welcome from a couple of incestuous nymphomaniac sisters egged on by their muscle-bound brother. It's not exactly a Travelodge.

However, their stay is involuntarily extended when it turns out the place is run by an in-bred family of neo-Nazi sadists obsessed with blood purity.

One of the cardinal rules with this sort of set-up is to make the victims reasonably sympathetic...but this bunch of cop-beating yobs really deserve everything they get.

It doesn't help that Gens pinches every horror cliche going. Now there's nothing wrong with an inventive reworking of an effectively terrifying device...but this is like being mugged by someone bereft of ideas.

So we get a victim trapped in a claustrophic cave (The Descent, a rampaging family of mutants (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Deliverance) and the guesthouse-from-hell (the Hostel series).

Bizarrely, Gens seems quite happy to ladle on the blood-spattered torture scenes yet gets all coy about nudity. Would you want to attend an orgy where bras and underpants are kept on?

There's also a distasteful theme of misogyny running through it with women being kicked in the face, battered by rifle butts and forced to burrow out of a pigsty.

Gens claims "this film is a smack in the face of boring consensual French cinema". No it isn't. It's just boring.

Tim Evans