Viewed – 14 June 2009  DVD

Took another look at this and so have decided to update my review.  This is part of the recent trend of extreme French horror, that has spawned the likes of Switchblade Romance (Haute Tension), Frontier(s) and the harrowing Martyrs.  So how does this one stack up?

Sarah (Alysson Paradis) is a heavily pregnant woman who four months previous survived a horrific car crash that claimed the life of her fiancé.  Now alone on Christmas Eve and ready to give birth on Christmas Day, she’s a bewildered, lonely young woman who feels she’s just going through the motions and her life has little meaning anymore … even her love of photography feels empty.  Enter onto the scene a weird stranger (Beatrice Dalle) who arrives late at night and demands to be let into the house.  So sets forth an unrelenting battle for survival as an obviously demented woman attempts to kill Sarah and take her unborn baby.

This is a disturbing premise for sure, especially for anyone with a child on the way,  so I’d recommend severe caution if sitting down to watch this very nasty and blood-soaked film.  The gory murders are unflinching and graphic, with an intensity to them due to the dark and claustrophobic setting, where many scenes are almost in total darkness.  Now as a fan of extreme horror this certainly delivers as far as subject and gore are concerned, but lacks some of the finesse of similar movies, and although it’s obvious the director(s) are trying hard to ramp up the tension with music and sound effects, their efforts just aren’t as well implemented.  Performance-wise we get a powerful, emotional turn from Paradis and totally believe in her plight as she tries to survive, and the creepy, black-widow Beatrice Dalle is a horror villain to rival the best of them, with every moment she’s on-screen sending chills through my whole body.

The struggle between the two women is very well-played out, the various shots to the traumatized unborn baby adding real power to events, but ultimately this is a movie that revels a little too much in the red stuff, and this threatens to overwhelm what is otherwise a very powerful and deeply atmospheric experience.

Verdict:  4 /5

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