Calvaire (The Ordeal) (2006)
A traveling entertainer falls prey to a disturbed recluse in director Fabrice Du Welz's twisted, slow-burn riff on Deliverance and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Having finished his latest performance at a remote retirement home, wandering singer Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas) packs his gear into his van and sets out towards his next gig. Unfortunately for Marc, the fog-shrouded roads of rural France are more treacherous than he ever anticipated. When his van breaks down in the middle of the night and a skittish local promises to lead him to a nearby inn owned by the eccentric recluse Paul Bartel (Jackie Berroyer), it appears that luck may be on Marc's side and he will be back on the road with the light of the morning sun. This isn't your average bed and breakfast, though, and Bartel certainly isn't the kindly innkeeper he initially appears to be. When Marc's van is set aflame and his increasingly menacing host makes a most disturbing claim, the soft-spoken singer will be forced to fight for his life against not only Bartel, but an entire village of deeply disturbed woodsmen. … More
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Critic Reviews for Calvaire (The Ordeal)
Du Welz has definite visual-dramatic talent. (Calvaire was a Cannes festival pick.) But, like Norman Bates' car, he need to get pulled out of the swamp.
What sells this movie is the realistic attention to detail and the bravura direction of Fabrice Du Welz, who draws a gut-wrenching performance from Lucas.
By the time it reaches its final act, the film rivals its American counterparts in intensity if not quite in explicit violence.
Director-co-writer Fabrice du Welz has taken a clichťd premise and infused it with a stylish perversity that should have horror fans squealing with delight.
Director Fabrice Du Welz doesn't reinvent the backwoods-freakshow formula, but there is something undeniably entertaining about violent psychos who are also committed art lovers.
Directed by the newcomer Fabrice du Welz, the Belgian horror film Calvaire is pompous, but not without talent or shivers.
a surrealist fairy tale bringing gothic glee to its meditations on performance and passion.
A genuine creepy horror movie, employing some good ol' camp themes to great effect.
A glossy rehash that's far less interesting and frightening than the classics upon which it's unimaginatively modeled.
if you've got a black sense of humor you might just find yourself laughing down the vomit.
So dead-set on being disturbing that it ends up tripping over its own hobbled feet and evoking fewer gasps than curdled little giggles.
Completely gratuitous. Don't bother.
Naming one character after cult director Paul Bartel is obvious enough, but why saddle the other with the moniker of a notorious '70s porn star?
Often more haunting and disturbing for what you don't see than for what you do.
While The Ordeal can't pass itself off as an art-house horror about the nature of love among the cannibals, it sometimes has a sick sexual frisson that resonates.
This is a strange, compelling horror film that is decidedly for the fans of the genre and not, definitely not, for the mainstream moviegoer.
...may seem simply a strange homage to other films that spins into its own warped weirdness, but it is the type of film that will reward multiple viewings.
Audience Reviews for Calvaire (The Ordeal)
Fabrice Du Welz goes for creepy and he achieves it. In many ways it's like a more compelling and realistic version of a Texas Chainsaw film, albeit without the cannibalism or indeed the Chainsaw but the idea that there is a small community of 'troubled people' out there is a terrifying notion and is excellently explored in Calvaire. It's a bit slow in places and I'm not sure Laurent Lucas ever convinces in his role. He's not really a character you can get behind or care too much about. I think this is down to the fact he doesn't act very well although I guess it's hard to play against a bunch of people playing nut-jobs but still, he wasn't a great leading man. Apart from that it was pretty good. I loved the cinematography particularly, there are a couple of real standout spectacular scenes that really impressed me. The dancing scene being one of the most creepy scenes I've seen in a horror film. A bit slow in places but all round pretty good and miles better than your average slasher.
Infuriating, amateurish crap; the end result of a fitfully inventive mind watching too many American horror movies and deciding to piece together an absurdist homage comprised of about four or five mildly interesting set pieces. There's not much reason to care about all the obtuse, heavily-implemented symbolism, as its only purpose seems to be loaning stray bits of meaning to a film that really doesn't have much. To be honest, none of it seems to have been done with all that much thought. Calvaire has a gaggle of astonishingly self-absorbed defenders on IMDB who write anyone not fond of the film off as uncultured or thoughtless, when there's really not a great deal to think about here. The seasons change arbitrarily because Fabrice Du Welz thought it would look cool. There are red-coated midgets in the woods because Fabrice Du Welz wanted to throw in a reference to Don't Look Now. These are just little ribbons adorning a very shallow package, and the complete discordance with which they're assembled precludes them from adding any sort of depth. The sound design is hackish and overdone, a mistaken effort at substituting volume for menace; the performances are poorly framed and striving for very different things, be it outright horror (Lucas) or black comedy (Berroyer); the only thing Du Welz really pulled off is the elegantly-lit, unshowy cinematography, using the sparse terrain to its best advantage. Unfortunately, it isn't enough to justify a watch, and Calvaire ultimately adds up to nothing but a few mildly "shocking" scenes.More
Survival horror for the art house crowd, Calvaire has a unique oddness that drives its deranged story straight into the eyeballs of viewers. The horror here is in the insanity of the captors and the atmosphere of the area where the main character is stranded.
If you want silly excessive gore, this is not your movie. If you want a captive survival horror narrative that dares to flirt with believable mental illness and bothers to use the camera and cinematography to tell the story as much as dialogue, this is it.
This is middle of nowhere backwards crazy people done to a perfect chime; look no further for your pigfucking scene needs. I hereby declare that I believe this film is superior to "Deliverance".
"Most fucked up" highlight: the village dancing around the piano
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