Folies Meurtrières film review

There is something inherently fascinating about film oddities emerging from the underground decades after their release. Such is the case with Folies Meurtrières, a gritty French slasher film from director Antoine Pellissier. This microbudget film is simple in execution, a masked killer on the prowl stalking and killing several women in vicious ways. However, what differentiates this one is an intriguing experience through obscurity and restraints.

Drowned synths, oversaturated blood, dialogue-free killing/stalking – these all contribute to the flow of the film becoming hypnotic with each subsequent kill. It is one of those cases where the film’s aging works in favor of a modern audience as the crudeness of the quality embodies the idea of ‘nightmare caught on celluloid’ – the grain and grittiness giving the sensation of stumbling across forbidden media.

The kills, simplistic in execution, have a tendency to dwell in excess, in one case soaking the screen with blood as a woman’s head is squeezed into a vice grip. In another case, a man is flung atop a car on repeat, painting it red as the woman inside freezes in confusion and fear. These sequences, admittedly, are very crude in execution, but through the lens of Pellissier, it takes on a pervasive, disturbing tone.

The cinematography is the obvious work of an amateur filmmaker, with many awkward and uncomplimentary shots and odd cuts. Nevertheless, this further adds to the allure of Folies Meurtrières as the disorienting approach blends with the other elements to keep that ethereal, uncanny flow – ‘brilliant by mistake’ is a term that comes to mind.

The ending, to avoid spoilers, is suitably abstract in painting the world of the killer as an endless cycle of violence brought on as a penance for past crimes. For a film with no dialogue, the film takes on an interesting narrative through the conclusion – it is not just violence for the sake of it.

Released as part of the Tetro Underground collection, it comes in two formats;  standard edition (vintage looking Slipcase + black amaray + DVD) and in a silver limited plus numbered edition (vintage looking Slipcase + transparent amaray + reversible sleeve + DVD + 1 collector’s card). Leave it up to the good folks at Tetro to unearth something this unique and present it in an enticing package. 

Folies Meurtrières is not going to appeal to all horror fans, this is one of the productions that is appreciated through digging through the annals of the most depraved and budgeted cinema there is to offer –  it is an acquired taste to say the least. For those who felt like they have experienced everything there is to offer, it is always a pleasant surprise to come across something unique that is aged perfectly for the modern fan of extreme cinema.

For a sampling, you can check out the age-restricted trailer here!

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