You cannot help but think of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre during a shot in The Ordeal where the camera spins across the leering, giggling faces of a twisted inbred family and their blood-covered, shrieking victim, and you really cannot help but think of it when they cut to an extreme close-up of the victim’s eye darting nervously back and forth. We’ve seen this movie before, where an innocent (played here by Laurent Lucas) has his car break down in the middle of nowhere. He is taken in by an eccentric innkeeper (Jackie Berroyer), and for a while The Ordeal is an intriguingly freakish character study of an older man falling in love with a younger man, believing him to be his dead wife. But their insinuating dialogue eventually gives way to a sadistic (and familiar) torture tale. After the innkeeper makes his visitor into his bitch, slicing off all his hair and making him wear a musty old dress, a series of beatings and chases through the woods ensue. The only further twist The Ordeal offers in this horror subgenre is an entire township of creepy looking old men (no women) who all seem to believe this young man is the physical embodiment of the innkeeper’s wife, and when their sexual heat gets turned up, this large gathering of gun-toting hicks decide they all want a piece of the action. While The Ordeal can’t pass itself off as an art-house horror about the nature of love among the cannibals, it sometimes has a sick sexual frisson that resonates. Too bad a bunch of other recent movies have already done this, and better.
- Palm Pictures
- 98 min
- Fabrice Du Welz
- Fabrice Du Welz, Romain Protat
- Laurent Lucas, Jackie Berroyer, Philippe Nahon, Jean-Luc Couchard, Brigitte Lahaie, Gigi Coursini
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