Calvaire review by The Grim Ringler

Whenever I am told that a film will freak me out or disturb me I have to admit I become pretty curious. Save for some genres that I just have no interest in, I just get very curious as to what it is that freaked my friend or some reviewer out so much. Such is the case of Calvaire, which was sold to me as a very disturbing film. Alas, the most disturbing thing here was that its gotten such great press.

A traveling performer in the wilds of France winds up stranded in the woods when his truck breaks down during a sudden snow storm. Seeking refuge at a nearby farmhouse, he finds himself welcomed with open arms by the warm stranger that lives there alone. The stranger isn't as harmless as he appears though and when the performer realizes that the man isn't fixing his truck at all but has rifled through it and has broken it further, he tries to escape but isn't fast enough. Now held captive by the man, he is made up to look like the wife that ran away, and is treated as such. Half mad and desperate for escape, the performer makes a run for it but is caught again, only to be taught such a lesson as to make sure he won't run away again. It would seem though that his kind hasn't been seen in these parts very often as the local townsfolk, people drawn to bestiality it turns out, catch sight of the performer and take enough of a liking to him that they decide that he should be their's and not the other man's. So, confused, miserable, and in the midst of a battle that will have him going to the madmen that win the ensuing siege and gun battle, the performer makes one more break for freedom, though whether he makes it or not, the scars he'll carry with him will never disappear.

The thing with Calvaire is that the geek show here is supposed to be as funny as it is creepy, and that just isn't the case. There are disturbing moment, for sure, but none of it is stuff I haven't seen before, it's just that this time it's all in French. Now, sure, I never knew France had hillbilles but I guess I never really cared, either. The humor here is of the ghoulish kind and really, none of it made me want to laugh. The idea that a man has been made into a woman and is being treated as such, presumably to the point of rape, doesn't really make me laugh a whole lot. Neither does bestiality. I think it's that the tone is held in the middle which bothered me. It wanted to be disturbing but wanted also to be funny and it's rare that you can be both things. There are some wonderfully well directed scenes and there are moments of true tension here but overall, none of it meant a thing to me.

Not a dreadful film but certainly one where the hype is overpowering the reality, this would be fun for a rental or for a gathering of friends but little use otherwise. Even though it tries hard to be different, it's painfully average.


5 out of 10 Jackasses

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