Saturday, 23 March 2013

Dans la Nuit

Director: Francois Reumont
Writers: Francois Reumont, Christophe Turpin
Producers: Sebastien de Fonseca, Francois Reumont, Cedric Walter
Cast: Agnes Roland, Theo Fillot, Marina Moncade, Adrien de Van
Year of release: 2002
Country: France
Reviewed from: UK theatrical screening

This interesting short (22 minutes) turned up as support to David Cronenberg’s excellent, Anglo-Canadian drama/thriller Spider when it played Phoenix Arts in Leicester. It was subtitled and given the English title At Night.

Agnes Roland (who looks a little like Drew Barrymore) plays an un-named author, driving to meet her agent late one night. In the middle of an unlit country road she accidentally hits a young cyclist (Fillot) but fortunately the boy seems uninjured apart from a mysterious mark on his back. Though she can’t prise a word out of him she finds his address in his bag and drives him home to an isolated farmhouse.

The boy’s slight unnerving parents (Marina Moncade, who was in 2000’s L’Extraterrestre, and the extremely creepy Adrian de Van) are surprisingly unconcerned about their son, who is swiftly locked in his room, but they invite their guest in and offer her a glass of wine. It turns out the father is also a writer, but the manuscript he proffers is merely a single phrase repeated dozens of times on each page. Something very odd is going on...

The tension is built very nicely and gradually, sliding from ‘this is a bit strange’ to ‘bloody hell, get out of there now!’ and culminating in violence and a desperate race for life. There is a not-unexpected twist ending but the film is stylish enough - and the oddball family enigmatic enough - to compensate for this.

This is the first film directed by Reumont, who has previously worked as cinematographer on numerous movies including Kit Wong’s black magic horror feature The Black Door.

A commendable, well-made horror movie which is definitely worth seeing and shows great promise. And kudos to Alan Alderson-Smith, film programmer at Phoenix Arts, for giving it a (very limited!) UK release.

MJS rating: B+
review originally posted before November 2004

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