Calvaire ('The Ordeal' in English) is a French Horror with elements of black comedy that are so black you won't find them funny. Oh, you'll laugh - but just won't know why. This isn't meant to be a criticism, because I think I might just have witnessed a mini-masterpiece...

... unfortunately the interview with the Director on the DVD extras made me even more confused than I was beforehand. He basically talks at 100 miles an hour in a thick French accent about God knows what. So if you think you may just have grasped the meaning of the film, DO NOT be tempted to listen to this interview!

The premise of The Ordeal is this - imagine if you're James Caan's character in Misery. And you've just been 'hobbled' by Cathy Bates. Then imagine that she's not going to be the worst person that you meet that week-end...

... scary thought. But that's the kind of predicament that young Marc finds himself in. It's a standard horror movie opening. His van breaks down. There's a decrepit looking hotel. He stays the night. But will he ever be allowed to leave?

Sounds like a fairly typical start to a fairly typical horror movie. But the Director has other ideas, and takes us on a macabre journey that merges stunning cinematography, imaginative directing, surreal imagery and some disturbed characters. Doing disturbed things.

You might not want to watch The Ordeal more than once, but nevertheless, parts of it will stay with you... I'm never going to forget the song-and-dance scene in the pub (the worst pub in the world, surely) It's horrifying, mystifying and deeply hilarious. And here it is:

Some sort of warped genius could well be at play here. And the acting is terrific. Especially Laurent Lucas who plays the unlucky Marc - he looks like he must have had quite an ordeal* playing the part. If you're ever knocked unconscious, and come round to discover you're wearing a dress and having your hair hacked off by someone who is calling you 'Gloria' (the name of his ex-wife), then you know you're in trouble...

* Sorry, couldn't help myself.


  1. Good review-

    This is one I have been meaning to pick up for a while....

  2. What Lubbert said.

    I like your blog very much, Igloo Keeper!

  3. Bizarre movie.My ex-girlfriend HATED it,which was enough to endear it forever for me,causing me to recreate the cafe dance for her over and over again for weeks.Heh heh.

  4. The cafe dance would be great for a first date.

  5. My boyfriend told me this was some kind of gory monster movie with a man who turns into a baby cow, or some shit. So, I was bitterly disappointed (I'm sure you understand). I remember feeling really bad for the movie, seeing as it wasn't it's fault - I don't think anything could live up to such a description. Now I need to find out what that baby cow movie is...

  6. I'm pretty sure the 'baby cow' movie is gonna be 'Isolation', a great little Irish Horror from 2 or 3 years ago...

  7. Agreed! We seem to share a macabre love for similar movies...

    The pub scene was incredibly disturbing even though it featured no violence per se. The director did a top notch job of making me never trust backwoods folk...