Although easily recognizable among movie lovers, new French extremity is a sub-genre that comes with different styles, plot structures or character developments. The main, always present, characteristic is a decision to break taboos through the use of extreme violence, exploration of sexuality, or strange obsessions combined with serious mental problems. What I appreciate the most about these movies is an exciting art film element — a step back from the cliché classic #horror movie expression. There are no red lines that can't be crossed in order to keep everyone happy, just watch and expect the unexpected.
Lots of blood, sex, vivid fight scenes, broken skulls, jump scares and even cannibalism are all familiar topics to the fans of gore horror, but in this case we are introduced to a morbid psychological factor that leaves a lasting impression. So, where do we start with new French extremity horror? Below I've chosen five new French extremity movies from different directors who embody the spirit and many forms of the movement of the sub-genre.
5. Trouble Every Day
The story centers around two people who have cannibalistic urges due to an unknown experiment they underwent in their youth. While Shane (Vincent Gallo) struggles to suppress his needs for human flesh, his high-school friend Coré (Béatrice Dalle) follows her urges and needs to be locked away like a wild animal. The racy sex scene where she suddenly starts to devour her partner's face with nothing but her teeth is the hardest one to watch without flinching, and you'll definitely want to cover your eyes and ears at the same time. The impressive amount of blood spilled through the movie is not the scariest part, it is the constant tension and suspense. This is because the viewer starts seeing the characters as predators who may attack and sink their teeth into the victim's body at any moment.
4. Ils (Them)
This one could be classified as a psychological, home invasion horror that will make you question every little sound you hear while you're lying in bed at night. A young French couple moves into a beautiful country house in Bucharest, where they are happy and settled, until the night when strange things start to happen: TVs mysteriously turn on, someone steals their car, and they hear that someone has entered the house.
This sounds like a predictable story at first, but the acting and atmosphere create a different impression and turn the viewer into a helpless voyeur. Also, the ending will give you the creeps, especially if you consider the note at the opening that says the film is based on true events. Don't expect a lot of blood, but this is definitely worth a watch for those who love to get their nerves tested.
3. Haute Tension (High Tension)
This is a classic slasher film with a twist. The story is simple: best friends Alex and Marie are staying at Alex's family home over the weekend to study. Someone rings the doorbell at night, which turns out to be a serial killer. As Alex's family are murdered, the killer drags her into his truck and doesn't notice that Marie has sneaked in as well. As Marie tries to set her friend free, the murder scenes are brutal, gruesome and, if I may add, incredibly creative.
The critics didn't happily welcome the movie because of plot holes and inadequate character development, but you won't be disappointed if you're looking for a fun, scary and bloody way to improve your movie night experience.
Raw, shocking, violent, and difficult to watch while dealing with a very disturbing subject in a unique way. Irreversible is one of the most talked about new French extremity works, partly because of its famous director, Gaspar Noé, and lead protagonists, played by #MonicaBellucci and Vincent Cassel. More importantly, the reason why this film has been starting discussions ever since its release in 2002 is the exceptionally violent and graphic rape scene.
#Irreversible is told in reverse chronological order, so the consequences are shown at the beginning, and then the story goes back to just before that horrible rape scene. There's a feeling of suspense, even though the outcome is already familiar to us. This film doesn't belong to a horror movie genre, but thanks to its superb acting, Irreversible inevitably brings out a broad range of emotions — fear and disgust included.
1. Dans Ma Peau (In My Skin)
In my opinion, this is what New French Extremity is all about. I've already mentioned that there are no taboos and morbid subjects to shy away from in the sub-genre, and this is a perfect example of that.
French actress Béatrice Dalle once again plays a person who develops an attraction to cannibalism. More precisely, after a random accident she becomes obsessed with her own body and starts to consume it little by little. The scenes where she's picking at the stitches and scabs on her injured leg, or trying to cut a piece of skin from her arm while dining in a fancy restaurant are particularly hard to watch. The whole experience is unsettling and intense, making us think about obsessions, self-mutilation and a seemingly stable person's inability to keep everything under control. There are not many films that portray the human body in such an intimate and intimidating fashion. For all of those who are looking for something extreme, and haven't yet experienced this movie, #DansMaPeau is a meal they shouldn't miss.
If you've got a strong stomach then you're no stranger to the more graphic horror movies out there. Did you know about these films that had to tone it down for a broader audience?
I would love to hear what you thought about these titles. Let me know your favorite new French extremity movie in the comments below!