Nothing to do with Freddy Kruger, but an intelligent and original horror thriller to rival even old knife hands.
Nothing to do with Freddy
Kruger, but an intelligent and original horror thriller to rival even old knife
the current crop of horror out-put it would appear that gore-porn is gradually
making an exit and being replaced by taught and tense thrillers. While
mainstream cinema has the likes of the Paranormal
Activity series it is the foreign market that continues to give us the real
chills. The obvious front-runners are Spain with Guillermo Del Toro overseeing the likes of The Orphanage (2007) and recently Julia’s Eyes. 5150 Elm’s Way, coming from French Canada, is not a
supernatural horror so much as a psychological thriller, but one that asks big
questions and demands even bigger answers.
young film student Yannick (Grondin)
falls off his bike while filming on the titular street. Badly cut he ventures
into the house of the Beaulieu family. While father Jacques (D’Amour) goes to call him a taxi,
Yannick discovers a man chained within the house. Taken hostage himself Yannick
finds himself becoming part of a bizarre family dynamic. At the mercy of
Jacques, who believes he is on a righteous path and who will only kill the
unrighteous. Yannick is therefore safe but a prisoner within the home. Only if
he beats Jacques at chess will he secure his freedom.
paper Elm’s Way might sound like a gratuitous torture movie but there is
actually very little on screen violence. Indeed Yannick is treated well by all
members of the family other than rebellious, and hostile, eldest daughter
Michelle (St-Sauveur). She takes an
element of pride in hurting Yannick but her controlling father soon puts a stop
the violence sporadic and relatively tamed the film is open to a wonderful game
of wills between Yannick and Jacques. The Beaulieu family are not some Texas
Chainsaw bunch of psychopaths but rather a dysfunctional family believing they
serve the greater ‘good’. In this sense they are not dissimilar to Bill Paxton’s character in the
much-underrated Frailty (2001) who
believed he was ridding the world of the wicked. Yannick’s introduction to the
family throws a spanner in the works. He is not a bad man, if anything Jacques
respects him more than his family, and so the question of what to do with him
acts as a catalyst that slowly gnaws at the rest of the family.
Tessier finds a sound pace and style to slowly bring the tension ever closer to
the surface. He has a knack for drawing us into Yannick’s frame of mind as he
begins to slowly unravel with only the same four walls to stare at. There are
some nice visual tricks that Tessier pulls off well; In one instance Yannick
sees the room slowly flooding with blood. However, his later flair of going
into Yannick’s mind during the chess games, which involve a washed out CGI
world, jars with the overall feel of the film.
looking incredibly like Gael Garcia Bernal, gives a solid performance of a man
determined to live but slowly going mad. But it is D’Amour as Jacques who
excels. Often the controlling father figure he is both raw and intricate. Only
when he slowly begins to unravel, as his chess moves fail him, do we begin to
see the monster inside rear its head.
gripping and original thriller Elm’s Way is hugely engaging with an ending that
makes it worth the slightly long running time. Refusing to conform to mainstream conventions Elm’s Way is an address
you should visit once and hope you don’t get trapped.
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