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Les Gouffres

North American Premiere
  • France
  • 2012
  • 84 mins
  • HD
  • French
Official Selection, Locarno Film Festival 2012

Always on the lookout for fresh, international cinematic talent, Fantasia proudly invites you to plunge into the impossible world of Antoine Barraud, one of the most innovative directors to come out of France since Marina De Van gave us the shocking DANS MA PEAU in 2002. An independent artist with an unorthodox track record, his work includes an improvised feature film as well as several experimental portraits of firebrand filmmakers like Koji Wakamatsu and Kenneth Anger. The two films presented in this special screening session reflect Barraud’s unique yet essential perspective on genre cinema. A master at manipulating cinematic codes of horror and the supernatural, he deftly subverts them before infusing them with a paradoxically mundane and surreal dimension. A worthy student of Jacques Rivette, Barraud presents two fantastic tales of latent violence, hands down the true revelation of this year’s Camera Lucida section.

In MONSTRE, NUMÉRO DEUX, Barraud cast himself as a young man whose quiet life led with his girlfriend is, in familiar film fashion, threatened by the burden of a heavy secret. He hasn’t been the same since his last visit to the dentist. An uncontrollable thirst for human blood consumes him, a thirst that is slowly transforming him into a monstrous creature. A captivating retelling of the vampire myth, this brilliant short positions the evolving monster within a daily tranquility that suddenly capsizes into a cannibalistic yet sentimental horror fest.

The night’s main event, LES GOUFFRES, is an iconoclastic hybrid of Michael Haneke’s films and Jason Banker’s TOAD ROAD. In a faraway land, five giant chasms have been discovered in the middle of a mountainous forest. A renowned speleologist (the brilliant Mathieu Amalric, TOURNÉE) begins to explore one of them while his wife waits alone in their villa. Worried sick, she soon starts to witness inexplicable phenomena that she associates with these mysterious chasms, the effects of which are as frightening as they are inviting. Little does she know that these curiously oversized holes will soon be coming to her… The irrational anguish triggered by the film’s very first shot is impossible to shake off. A dizzying plunge into the unknown, this atmospheric piece of work continuously torments with its phantasmagoric imagery and unrelenting tension between the dreamlike and the uncanny. Let yourself be whisked away into a strange land where the familiar crumbles to make way for an inescapable haunting.

— Simon Laperrière