Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sheitan (2006)

I was just bombarded with the strange and disturbing Sheitan, a horror film from France directed by Kim Chapiron and written by Kim and Christian Chapiron. Sheitan is a shocking, disturbing and crazy film that features some of the oddest and unsettling characters this side of a David Lynch film.

A group of twentysomethings meet the seemingly sweet and innocent Eve (Roxane Mesquida) at a club on Christmas Eve. Eve invites them back to her run-down farmhouse in the French countryside, where her parents are out of town. Once there, they meet the strange housekeeper, Joseph (Vincent Cassel). He and the rest of the countryfolk there seem slightly…off. The kids slowly start to ask themselves, just what is wrong with everyone? Then, one by one, the club kids fall victim to Joseph’s plan, one that involves his pregnant “wife,” their unborn baby and Sheitan, the devil himself.

Sheitan is a very uncomfortable movie to watch. It’s not that it’s a gory or gross-out movie (though the film has its share of gross-outs…how ‘bout that birthing scene?), but that the characters are just so strange and everything feels off-kilter. Joseph spends the entire film leering maniacally, while Eve always seems to be hiding something behind her big, seductive doe eyes. The townsfolk the kids run into are equally weird, giggling amongst themselves at the kids’ expense while “playing” rape in the hot springs (never mind that they are all related). There’s also plenty of nasty violence, incest, sex and devil worship to shock and satiate even the most jaded of viewers.

Though the kids that follow Eve out to the French countryside aren’t all that likable (the guys just want to get laid, they fight amongst each other over girls, one of them is cheating on his girlfriend, and the lone female of the group doesn’t really have a personality) you still feel uneasy for them when things begin to get awkward. When the shit really hits the fan, you’re in a panic, just like the characters. Also like the characters, we as an audience are never quite sure what is going on, but the tension and unease keeps mounting until the disturbing finale.

The acting is exceptionally well-done, especially by Vincent Cassel playing the creepy Joseph, who repeatedly steals the show. His lascivious performance made me feel like I needed a scalding shower after watching Sheitan, but I just couldn’t take my eyes off of him! The other actors did a great job as well, including Roxane Mesquida as Eve and Olivier Bartelemy, Nicolas Le Phat Tan, Leila Bekhti, and Ladj Ly as the club kids in for a hellish holiday!

The only complaint some genre fans might have is that it takes quite a while for something to truly “happen.” During that time, though, I defy you not to be creeped out by Vincent Cassel’s character or the rest of the inbred townsfolk. In my opinion, the film makes up for some slow spots by throwing in some black humor that will have you rolling on the floor when you’re not cringing at the screen!

Sheitan is an absolute nutjob, but I loved every dirty second of it. Its disturbing story, creepy location and, most of all, oddball characters make Sheitan a must-see. While it sounds like a run-of-the-mill slasher (a bunch of horny, attractive kids stuck in isolation somewhere are tracked down by a psycho killer), I assure you it is anything but standard fare. Sheitan will leave you dizzy with disturbance.

Available from Amazon!

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