Ils

"Excellent"

Ils Review


Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of Xavier Palud and David Moreau's ferocious Ils is its utter lack of trickery and distraction. For 77 grueling minutes, nerves get fried, senses are shocked and your pulse becomes a runaway metronome. Not a minute gets wasted from the moment the film starts until the frustrating and chilling conclusion. There isn't a superfluous character to be found on the screen for one frame, never allowing you to avert your eyes from its very real horror. Every pitter-patter of raindrops and blaze of flashlight bulb serves a specific function in this fearsome machine of terror.

Filmed in grainy 35mm, the chills begin in a broken down car on the side of a murky back road. Like a flutter of strings before a symphony starts, Palud and Moreau orchestrate this gripping scene with a diamond cutter's precision, toying with a victim before moving in for the kill. As prefaces go, the scene, engaging and thorough, serves as a sharp appetizer before the main course.

From there we are transplanted to a country house in the middle of nowhere where a teacher (Olivia Bonamy) is visiting her writer boyfriend (Michaël Cohen) for a weekend away from the runts at her school. They fool around, have dinner and get ready for bed after watching bad French television. As he falls asleep, she goes downstairs to grade papers, and that's when she starts hearing noises; a phone ring here, a muffled pop song there. A nuisance slowly rolls into genuine scares as a battalion of entities in hooded sweatshirts descend on the home and its inhabitants.

Laid out in real time (for the most part), the documentary-style camerawork gives the story that all-too-familiar, this-could-be-you feel to the events. but the filmmakers don't rely on the fact that this really does come from a true story. In their basic schematic, Palud and Moreau reach maestro stature in pacing, staging, and timing, soaking up every millisecond to wring one more of your nerves completely dry. These thrills become even more sculpted when the identities of the miscreants are revealed, adding a layer of oddly-justified satire to the proceedings.

Palud and Moreau have created a welcome reprieve from what has become a rather ugly and disjointed genre in the French cinematic lexicon. Where the recent Dans Paris jolted some life into France with some help from J.D. Salinger, Ils rebukes recent gore-fests like the abysmal High Tension and strips the horror genre down to it's shivering-white bones; that it also flips the switch on 98 percent of American horror films goes without saying. With Ils, the directors understand that horror has basically evolved from the thriller but with more emphasis on the metaphorical implications of body vs. mind and youth vs. age. Here, the film runs lean and mean, ending on a note of inescapable dread with a final image that lingers in your retinas. It seems France has finally found its new blood. Now all it has to do is keep the vampires away.

Aka Them.



Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Thursday 11th October 2012

Production compaines: Eskwad, StudioCanal, Castel Film Romania, Canal+, CinéCinéma

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: David Moreau, Xavier Palud

Starring: as Clémentine, Michaël Cohen as Lucas, Adriana Mocca as Ilona, Maria Roman as Sanda, Camelia Maxim as Maria

Also starring:

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