Directed by Joel Seria
Distrubed by Mondo Macabro
The DVD artwork of Don’t Deliver us From Evil might lead you to expect a stock “youth gone wild” type of exploitation film, and it certainly has elements of that. But it’s so much more… it’s an arthouse shocker that’s beautifully shot and scored, and the performances and art direction are top notch across the board. It twists and turns relentlessly from a thing of beauty into a macabre, malignant and disturbing beast and back out again. The longer it plays, the stronger the contrast grows between the sweet and the sinister.
Visually, there’s a lot of cool stuff in this film for fans of the early 70’s horror era. There are flashes of soft-focus, summery field romps and angelic faces that evoke at times an almost Sound of Music feel, but in the dark context of this film these images are downright creepy. There are stylized, candlelit nocturnal wanderings that evoke a Jean Rollin aesthetic, while in the daytime, the old European village and castle-like Estates recall the strange, quaint eeriness of The Wicker Man (no, not the remake). It all sounds very idyllic, but as increasingly ugly and mean spirited events continue to permeate the narrative, hearing the giggling laughter of these girls echoing through the halls, abbeys, and fields is anything but serene.
The antiheroes of this story, Anne de Boissy & Lore Fournier, aren’t your everyday adolescent troublemakers – these girls are wise to their feminine wiles and allure, and they share an extraordinarily cruel streak. Sure, they run and bicycle about the countryside and find secret places to do their whimsical teenage things. And like adolescent best friends on a summer break, they’re smiling and fawn-like until they’re out of the sight and mind of their parents and caretakers. But what these two get up to on their own is anything but child’s play.
In a sense, Don’t Deliver us from Evil could be seen as a second or third cousin to the ugly but very real human themes explored in films like The Honeymoon Killers or Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. What these films share is the study of criminal pairings, how people who alone might not be inclined to act out their horrible urges can quite easily end up doing so once paired with the right (or, better put, horribly wrong) partner in crime. For Anne & Lore, the deadly symbiosis emerges through forming a rebellious bond within a culture of strict religious oppression.
This film is interesting in that it explores the crime duo phenomenon at such a young age – the naivety of the youthful antagonists is a central angle … you have to wonder if people under a certain age are fully aware of how wicked they are being and how much others truly suffer for it. Although adolescents aren’t impervious to guilt or empathy, they can definitely be self-centred enough to view horrible actions as a game and the power of peer influence can be more detrimental than is the case with adults. But like adults, once a certain threshold of bad behavior is breached, the girls become bound by an even stronger mutual dependency from having to keep their crimes covered up. The film wisely addresses all of these factors in the motivation of the anti-heroines, making the story far more intelligent and insightful than typical sleaze fare.
The story kicks off in a religious girls’ school with a rigid, stuffy, and authoritarian atmosphere. You can totally see why a rebellious streak would emerge – who would want to have to live a dull, pious existence when so many fun and risqué adventures await just outside the door? The overbearing religious repression invites a specific (and logical) initial response – blasphemy. The one good thing you can say about Anne and Lore is that they are quite creative with their cruelty. They’re not above your typical unimaginative crimes like theft, arson, deceit, and blackmail. But what they do particularly well is imaginative psychological torture and ritualistic heresy. They strike their victims in a way that the misery inflicted can be savoured and observed and they utilize their sexuality in ways that ensure the victim is bound to silence by the social or religious digression of their role in the crimes.
Perverts reading this, yes, this is about private school girls and yes, there is flesh on display. But this isn’t like women in prison films – these girls feel young enough that their brazen sexuality and vicious manipulation of hapless males is bound to make a lot of viewers squirm. They invite trouble, and boy do they get it!
Anne & Lore hit hard and they don’t tend to play favourites – sad, lonely, impoverished men are just as likely targets as those who are established. Although, they do seem to take a particular pleasure in going after thick or imbecilic types – in this sense, the film might be making some kind of class comment about the privileged wreaking sadistic havoc on the proletariat simply because they can…
There are other thought provoking aspects to the plot as well. I can’t be certain if this film is a damning charge against religious oppression or not. On one hand, you could argue that the story shows how repression breeds evil. On the other, the film could be making the case that rejection of the divine rule is the root of all evil, whether that’s in the church itself (hypocrisy and succumbing to sexual temptation) or amongst the churchgoers (Anne & Lore being an extreme example). Who knows – there’s an interview with the director and the actress who played Anne on the DVD so maybe viewing those can shed more light on the moral “message” of the film.
But leave the intellectual musing for later, if that’s even your thing. For now, just get a hold of this gem from Mondo Macabro – it’s really well presented release and as usual has some great extras thrown in. Don’t Deliver us from Evil is an engaging, shocking, and disturbing watch with a madly morbid theatrical finale that you won’t soon forget.
I can say that those aforementioned DVD extras are well put together and insightful. They are relatively short, but then, I personally find it can get to be a bit much when a film’s creators go on too long about every little detail. I almost prefer what Mondo Macabro did with this release to the typical director’s commentary – here, it’s a nicely refined peek into the film’s controversies and narrative motivations, but not so much on the technical side that the mystique is undone.
You’ll learn about the director’s inspirations for telling such a dark and arguably nihilistic story, as well has how literate and well thought out the content of this film is. You’ll get detailed info on how and why Don’t Deliver us from Evil was banned on original release, and from the director interview and an insightful featurette called “Hellish Creatures”, you’ll get an idea of the influence the plot took from the real New Zealand crime duo of Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker. Lastly, if you read the About the Film section, a couple of aspects you might have suspected as being over the line or unnecessarily brutal in the making of the film are debunked, so you can sleep soundly after watching this movie after all.
4 out of 5
5 out of 5
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor
Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.
On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.
The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.
While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.
What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.
While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.
IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.
The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell
Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law
Directed by John Law
I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.
The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.
The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.
The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.
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