Mar 18, 2009

Left Bank

Sadly, I can’t say I am too fond of many contemporary films from Europe. It seems that most films nowadays from Europa suffer from the same pathetic and bland “we are the world” globalist feeling that are so typical of Hollywood films. Sorry, but if I wanted to see an Arab wearing a turban, I don’t need to see them in a French (like the wretched filth Paris, je t'aime) or German film. An American intercity cab driver is an easier way to see this anti-cultural phenomenon. Every once in a while I will be surprised by a film from Europe that actually has some type of cultural and nationalist feel to it. The Flemish “horror” film Left Bank is one of those so rare contemporary European films that is worthy of high praise.

Left Bank follows in the wonderful horror tradition of The Wicker Man (1973) old thyme European pagan themes. Also like The Wicker Man, Left Bank follows a confused protagonist as they start to uncover the ancient beliefs and practices of their ancestors. Upon first to watch Left Bank (which I knew nothing about), I expected some type of pretentious existentialist garbage so typical of many European films today. As Left Bank unravels, the film becomes progressively engulfing and addictive. It would not be at all falt to call the film merely a “horror” film as the majority of braindead populous horror fans probably wouldn’t make it 30 minutes into the film. Being from Belgium, the Left Bank also has subtitles which are guaranteed to ward off fans of something like say The Ruins or Saw V.

The protagonist of Left Bank is young competing runner named Marie who is slightly anti-social. After finding out she has to stop running and miss a much anticipated tournament in Portugal due to problems with her woman parts, Marie goes into a depression. Her emotions changed overnight, however, when she hooks up with a cool guy named Bob and they start having sex in every angle and place in Bob’s fancy apartment. Marie almost instantly moves into the apartment which happens to be located in the dreaded Left Bank. Great sex can only last so long as Marie becomes obsessed with a mystery concerning a young girl who disappeared from the apartment that Marie inhabits.

Marie eventually finds out that the apartment she now lives in also happens to be located in a place where pre-Christian human sacrifices took place. Marie’s eccentric mother “feels” the evilness of the apartment and naturally wants her daughter to move out. Marie, however, is stubborn and insists on uncovering the mysteries of Left Bank. Marie also receives a knee injury that gets uglier the more she realizes she has gotten herself in too deep. To say anymore about the film would be to give too much away.

Europe seems to be having a trend of quality and artistically merited horror films. The Swedish film Let The Right One In was a surprisingly good new take on the vampire film. Left Bank is an ambitious and original horror film that also deserves the acclaim that Let the Right One In has received. Unfortunately, I think that Left Bank might be a little too confusing for the typical American film goer. I am sure that the Europeans will have enough common sense to make sequels to these films unlike the typical coke snorting American producer.

-Ty E

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