The Horrors of Cannes 2009

The official lineup for the 2009 Cannes Film Festival has been announced, and we were pleased to see more than a few horror/thriller filmmakers mixed in with the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Alejandro Amenabar, Jane Campion, and Ang Lee. Who made the final cut?

  • Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (Denmark/Sweden/France/Italy): A grieving couple retreats to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course, and things go from bad to worse in this film, which is based on the theory that it was Satan, not God, who created the world.

  • Pedro Almodóvar’s Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces) (Spain): It’s not pure horror, but the film, which is about “a man who writes, lives, and loves in the darkness”, was shot in the style of a hard-boiled 1950s American film noir so should be of interest to genre fans.

  • Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void (France): The director describes his attempt to “reproduce the maelstrom of our states of perception and consciousness” as follows — Enter the Void will try to improve upon its predecessors and accompany the hero just as much in his normal state of awareness as in his altered states: the state of alertness, the stream of consciousness, memories, dreams…The film should sometimes scare the audience, make it cry and, as much as possible, hypnotise it.

  • Brillante Mendoza’s Kinatay (The Execution of P) (Phillipines): A young man, a college graduate with a degree in criminology, wants to earn some real money so he can marry his girlfriend. A former classmate invites him to join a little one-time job with a group of professionals which will pay him $2,000. He joins, but it doesn’t take long for him to realize that this “small job” involves killing a woman and chopping her body into pieces.

  • Isabel Coixet’s Map of the Sounds of Tokyo (Spain): A thriller in which a solitary young Japanese woman, who works in a fish market at night and occasionally as a hired killer, is contracted to assassinate a Spanish man, who’s blamed for the suicide of a rich businessman’s daughter. Meanwhile, a sound engineer, who’s fascinated by the woman and the sounds of Tokyo, tracks the girl through the city.

  • Park Chan-wook’s Bakjwi (Thirst) (South Korea/USA): A beloved and devoted priest from a small town volunteers for a medical experiment which fails and turns him into a vampire. Physical and psychological changes lead to his affair with a wife of his childhood friend who is repressed and tired of her mundane life. The one-time priest falls deeper in despair and depravity. As things turns for worse, he struggles to maintain what’s left of his humanity.

  • Johnnie To’s Vengeance (Hong Kong/France/USA): A brutal tale about a French assassin-turned-chef who travels to Hong Kong in order to avenge the murder of his daughter.
  • With regard to the “out of competition” films, the most noteworthy are Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell and French psychodrama Ne te retourne pas (Don’t Look Back), both of which are playing as part of the fest’s “Midnight” segment. In addition, fans of Heath Ledger will be able to see his final performance in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which is also screening out of competition.

    Cannes 2009 runs from May 13 through May 24. For the full rundown and schedule, visit the official Cannes 2009 website.

    Debi Moore

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