2004, NR, 90 min. Directed by Fabrice du Welz. Starring Laurent Lucas, Jackie Berroyer, Jean-Luc Couchard.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 8, 2006
Calvaire, a Belgian horror romp (sorry, there's no other word for it), is so dead-set on being disturbing that it ends up tripping over its own hobbled feet and evoking fewer gasps than curdled little giggles. I don't know what they're putting in their famed chocolate these days, but I won't be buying any anytime soon. Lucas plays Marc Stevens, a one-man cabaret show, traversing the countryside in his rickety van, performing for silent halls full of the staring, barely there elderly while trying, and failing, to somehow hit the big time. When his van breaks down (in the woods, in the dark, in the rain, etc.) on the way to his next engagement, he takes refuge at Bartel's Inn, whose owner (Berroyer) is grieving for his lost love while simultaneously rifling through Stevens' van before setting it on fire and ultimately giving poor Stevens a truly awful haircut. Calvaire has a few passages of genuine dread – a barroom dance by the local villagers is just plain disturbing – but it takes so long to get going and fails to generate the necessary suspense to keep viewers engaged, that the horrific final act is too little, too late, while at the same time nearly being much too much.