Saturday, February 26, 2011

Vertige (2009): Review

Directed by Abel Ferry. Starring Fanny Valette, Johan Libéreau, Raphaël Lenglet, Nicolas Giraud, and Maud Wyler.

Chloé (Fanny Valette) is either a nurse or a paramedic. An incident occurred at the hospital where she works, in which a young boy died on her watch, right before her very eyes. Does this particular incident have anything to do with the rest of this French horror/thriller that revolves around a mountain-climbing trip gone terribly wrong? Not really, but Chloé keeps having flashbacks of the incident nonetheless, obviously ridden by guilt, although it's not exactly clear why. Chloé is amongst a group of close friends who head up into the Balkan mountains in Croatia to do some hiking, rock-climbing, and all that fun outdoorsy shit. There's her boyfriend Loïc, who's the outsider of the group and the sour-puss of the trip. Understandably so since Chloé's ex, Guillaume, decided to tag along. Leading the pack are Fred and Karine, who seem to have organized the trip and picked the particular trails and obstacles they'll be exploring.

There's obviously some tension between Loïc and Guillaume, which will come into play later on in the film when the characters are in peril. The thing is, not a lot is known about the past relationship between Chloé and Guillaume, so it's never clear if Guillaume has good intentions, or if he's the slimy ex boyfriend who plans on getting in between Chloé and her new man. This also comes into play later on. On the ride up, there's a cute group singalong in the car to "Alright" by Supergrass. Long story short, the mountain-climbing excursion starts out fine, but a bridge connecting two mountains collapses and leaves them stuck. As they look for a trail to take them to safety, one of the characters steps in a bear trap and is dragged away from the scene by a mysterious figure. The rest of the group soon realize that they're not alone up in them therr mountains.

VERTIGE begins as an excellent thriller, but eventually goes the route of generic backwoods horror a la HILLS HAVE EYES, WRONG TURN, et al. VERTIGE is a lot of things: entertaining, suspenseful, and ultimately very bloody (this is a French horror movie, so it goes without saying that at least one character will be left covered in crimson and in desperate need of a shower). Unfortunately, "original" is something that the film is not. However, the film more than makes up for its lack of originality by trying its hardest to be an exceptional example of the sub-genre it falls into. The characters are all likable, and, thankfully, the screenwriters avoided making them cliches, which is a problem with most of the films that this one resembles. The "love triangle" aspect of the story, for lack of a better term, adds a whole new dimension to what could have been a pretty average film.

Make or Break Scene: Initially, I leaned towards the bear trap scene since its the turning point of the film, but the scene that ultimately made the movie for me was the showdown between a certain protagonist and the film's heel. It's seriously one of the most bad-ass horror movie showdowns between "good and evil" that I have seen in a very long time. A donnybrook. A pier-sixer. A slobberknocker. A knockdown drag-out barroom brawl without the barroom. Trust me, it's awesome.

MVT: Fanny Valette, who plays Chloé. First and foremost, her name is Fanny, which means "vagina" in certain parts of the world. Secondly, she plays the character involved in my "Make or Break" Scene. Chloé is quite possibly my new favorite Final Girl of all time.

Score: 6.5/10

VERTIGE is pretty damn enjoyable despite its low score. However, at the end of the day it's simply the same old backwoods horror movie that we've all seen before. Recommended, but not one I'd suggest you go out of your way to see.

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