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Calvaire: The Ordeal
Calvaire The Ordeal
Actors: Laurent Lucas, Brigitte Lahaie, Gigi Coursigny, Jean-Luc Couchard, Jackie Berroyer
Director: Fabrice Du Welz
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror
UR     2006     1hr 28min

In the tradition of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, PSYCHO and DELIVERANCE comes this chilling Belgian horror that pushes the limits of shock filmmaking. Director and co-writer Fabrice Du Welz masterfully evokes a sense of deepl...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Laurent Lucas, Brigitte Lahaie, Gigi Coursigny, Jean-Luc Couchard, Jackie Berroyer
Director: Fabrice Du Welz
Creators: Fabrice Du Welz, Donato Rotunno, Eddy Géradon-Luyckx, Guillaume Malandrin, Michael Gentile, Philippe Kauffmann, Romain Protat
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror
Studio: Palm Pictures / Umvd
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/03/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 28min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

An unforgettably dark, disturbing, uniquely fascinating film
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 09/24/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Disturbing; unsettling, weird; uncomfortable - these are just a few of the adjectives that most come to mind when I reflect upon this uniquely creepy film. The English title is The Ordeal, but ordeal really isn't an adequate description of what this film's protagonist endures over the course of this 90-minute film. I looked "Calvaire" up online and found that it translates from French to English as martyrdom or living death - yep, that's pretty much spot on, as I think all viewers of this film will agree. I like my horror as deep and disturbing as I can find it, yet I've never developed a real affinity for exploitation films or for the types of films that admittedly influenced Belgian director Fabrice Du Welz (including the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and I don't believe anyone, (including this film's biggest fans) can say they actually enjoyed this cinematic experience - yet there's something special and certainly compelling about Calvaire. Even though I didn't interpret it exactly the way the director explains it, it's a darn impressive film that succeeds amazingly well at shocking and disturbing the viewer.

For a director's first feature-length movie - and one that that makes no secret of that director's cinematic influences - Calvaire achieves a sustained identity all its own, evincing a shrouded, unsettling cinematic atmosphere from the opening shot. It's most interesting to hear Du Welz talk about his cinematic vision and the film's intended transitions from naturalism to surrealism and back. I do have a problem with the way snow appears and disappears from the landscape (as well as the treatment of a couple of animal actors), but apart from that the cinematography is ruthlessly effective.

Calvaire asks "What's the worst that could happen?" and then sets about to answer that question rather definitively. Lounge singer Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas) already lives in a depressing, colorless world, with a couple of rather disturbing events hastening him away from his latest gig performing at a retirement home. On the way to his next appearance, he takes to unfamiliar backcountry roads, leaving him high but not at all dry when his van breaks down in the middle of nowhere - at night - in a rainstorm. An obviously mentally challenged stranger out looking for his dog directs him to a rural inn just up the road. Upon Marc's arrival, the proprietor of that establishment, Bartel (Jackie Berroyer), seems nice enough, taking him in and volunteering to work on his van. He does a number on the van, all right, but not before revealing his obvious state of mental anguish over his wife Gloria's desertion of him. Bartel really, really wants his wife back. Do you see where I'm going with this? Gloria's gone, Marc's there. Gloria was a singer, Marc is a singer. I think you can imagine just what kind of dire situation Marc soon finds himself in.

As if things weren't bad enough for Marc already, the local villagers are also interested in "Gloria" - and they are even stranger than Bartel, as they prove during the oddest dancing scene I've ever seen in my life. From this point on, all bets are off in terms of what will happen - the only guarantee is that it will be memorable and increasingly disturbing. The ending is somewhat ambiguous, but by that point you're so knocked off-kilter that you don't really know how to react, anyway.

The making-of featurette, which consists of a lengthy interview with the director and some behind-the-scenes shots of key scenes, is extremely interesting. Du Welz's enthusiasm is contagious, and it's refreshing to hear him acknowledge his influences while detailing his peculiar vision for this film. It was here that I discovered that he carefully chose his actors in order to put a unique spin on the story, but my unfamiliarity with Jackie Berroyer in particular led me to interpret the story quite differently. (Among the cast members, I should note, is Brigitte Lahaie in a small cameo role.) Thus, I now have two different ways of looking at this film. You just don't find that kind of depth in the vast majority of studio films, and the same thing can be said of the daring of Du Welz, Berroyer, and - in particular - Laurent. If you're looking for something different, this is it. You may not enjoy Calvaire, but you can't help but be impressed by it."
Anton Ilinski | Moscow, Russia | 11/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Seems like we've seen it all already - Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Deliverance, Wrong Turn and Wolf Creek... So any new movie based on these peripetias has to offer something new not to look boring and secondary. Surely modern directors saw the same movies we all saw and they know as well of a horror tradition and of what they should do or shouldn't considering their projects. And here hides all the charm of Fabrice Du Welz's "The Ordeal" originally named "Calvaire". It seems that Du Welz consciously decided not to take into consideration previous horror-movies' experience, he took it as a tabula rasa to create something new as if there were nothing created before, pretending he's a kind of a pioneer. And surprisingly he succeeded.

"The Ordeal" turned out to be rather quiet and modest film and maybe that's where its fascination comes from. It appears you can make one truly disturbing picture without crushed skulls and sawed off limbs. On celluloid Du Welz created his little, personal hell, which sometimes may seem more infernal than those of Romero, Hooper and Argento combined.

There's no need to retell the story - it's the same old one: a man, whose car brakes, finds himself in a place no one would want to make into, and meets people no one would want to encounter either. The trick is there are no mutants here, no rivers of blood and no nervous chasings through the woods. Everyting is very calm and routine. And that makes your skin creep. We got used to mindblowing adventures of those who got into trouble including the above-mentioned chasings with all kinds of cold arms. Not this time. The place Du Welz created is totally real, I'm sure you all saw these places, these desolate villages where few people live. And these people are not mutants, not some kind of maniacs degenerated after years of inbreeding. They are normal rural inhabitants who've been changed slightly because of the lack of communication and love maybe. The horror of the situation is that you never know when you're going to meet these people travelling by car next time. They are not in a desert and not in some solitude with no one around for hundreds of miles. They may be couple of miles from your home. Remember this is not US or Australia, it's Belgium you can spend half a day crossing in a car. If previous similar horror movies' message was - don't go too far from your home, you may find trouble, "The Ordeal" tells you - don't leave your house at all!
In general all that's happening in the village doesn't look like some crazy and gory nightmare, it's so real and humdrum you will be shocked. It's an "everyday nightmare", a personal Calvary that maybe every man has to experience once with an outcome unknown. The matter is you don't know when and where. The title "The Ordeal" pretty well conveys this idea albeit "Calvair" is much more philosophical and closer to the meaning of the film.

I'd like to mention also the great Belgian exteriors which add some terrifying coloration to the picture and make it truly dark and ominous. At this point "The Ordeal" is one of the most beautiful and dire movies I've seen. Besides you'd be glad (I guess) to meet some of the people you know - Philippe Nahon from "Haute tension" and "I Stand Alone", horror and erotic icon Brigitte Lahaie and I must mention the director of photography Benoît Debie who shot "Irreversible". Anyway "The Ordeal" is a nice addition to the genre, I'm not sorry I bought it."
"What is the worst that could happen if You're Lost in the W
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 09/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"You are a traveling singer driving on a two-lane road alone somewhere in lonely countryside. Your car breaks down. You're lost in the woods and the night is closing in. This Belgian film asks you: "What is the worst that could happen?" You can find the answer in `Calvaire,' but its answer is not what you see in Hollywood horror films.

The worst happens to a young and handsome chansons singer Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas). After his car's breakdown, he walks to the nearest village, guided by a young man he encountered on the way. The boy says he is searching his dog, but he behaves a little strange. Is he afraid of something?

After arriving at the village, an old man named Bartel (Jackie Berroyer) kindly lets Marc stay at his house. Believing that he can continue his travel, Marc thanks him for his kind offer, and accepts it. But Bartel seems to have his own plan. In fact, the old man thinks that he knows about Marc, or someone named Gloria, and it turns out that Marc has to stay there much longer than he expected.

[BIZARRE] It is certain, as the story unfolds, that there is something wrong with the people there, I mean, all the people in this film except Marc. The film is filled with this creepy mood from the beginning, even before his getting lost in woods. In the first scene Marc's karaoke gig ends with two elderly females eagerly staring at him, and one of them gives him a collection of disturbing Polaroid photos. Marc may be called an objct of desire, but he is the last person to know that.

`Calvaire' has another title `The Ordeal' which many be a more appropriate one for Marc, who must endure so much. I should not reveal the film's story here. That's because I know doing so would be pointless, but still I can tell you that you don't see a blood-stained chainsaw or a masked killer. What you see instead is the world of insanity, an isolated community where insanity slowly creeps in a stealthy way toward Marc.

Why do these Belgian country boys act like that? (There is one quite original dancing scene in which the villagers dance to the unnerving sound of pounding piano like zombies.) What is the reason behind the enmity between them and the old Bartel? Answers are suggested, but not completely given.

Belgian director Fabrice Du Welz's `Calvaire' is a film that defies our easy categorization. It is a horror, but shocks come very slowly; violence is also there (though graphic descriptions are avoided), but the film has some dark humor. It most definitely reminds us of countless films in the past, horror or otherwise, but the film is hardly an imitation of them. It also has underlying religious tone, but it is hard to pinpoint the exact meaning of it.

Whatever the film is, the film's photography capturing the bleak rural landscape is something you should not miss (by a cinematographer Benoît Debie, known for Gaspar Noé's more depressing `Irréversible'). It is breathtakingly beautiful and sinister-looking at the same time, something that you seldom see.

If you want to see something original, strange, or bizarre; if you think you have seen everything, try this one. `Calvaire' is a film you either love or hate. Some images still remain in my mind as well as the crying of a pig that is still haunting."
A True Horror Film !
creatureart | Massachusetts | 11/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Fabrice Du Welz's "Calvaire:The Ordeal" is a truly unique,cold & kooky dark grey nightmare of a film. This one is loaded with so much foggy atmosphere that you can barely see the person sitting next you. This is definitely one of the very best horror films that I have ever seen. It's these little known masterful gems that make the endless,painful & often unfruitful journey well worth it for the tireless horror film collector searching for greatness among so much [...]. Our victim in this film lands himself in a warped dead end backwoods hell hole like no other & I stress the word "WARPED". Du Wels provides the viewer with some truly disturbing scenes & most of them have little or no blood & gore. There is one scene that will be forever stuck in my memory as it rears it's truly bazar & creepy head whenever I think of this film & it involves some of the scariest piano playing that I've ever heard in my life,you'll know what I'm talking about when you get to that part of the film. Speaking of music there is very little of it in this film & that is one of it's very special qualities that favors it realism & speaking of qualities,Fabrice Du Wels manages to take only the best qualities from the very best blueprint classics such as "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" & "Deliverance" mixes them with his own twisted ideas & cherry tops it with his exceptionally gifted talent for making movies & delivers to us horror fans a brilliant & truly atmospheric horror masterpiece."