Calvaire

88 minutes

Released in 2004, this French variation on the backwoods horror movie proves that even a little thematic complexity in the early scenes can yield a substantial payoff when things get going. A touring lounge singer (Laurent Lucas) performs at an old people's home in the country, enjoying his status as a pretty young thing and deflecting rude sexual come-ons from the aging head nurse and one of the geriatric women. After his van breaks down in the middle of nowhere and he's taken in by a rough old man whose wife has died, being a pretty young thing becomes a clear disadvantage. A strict regimen of squeal-like-a-pig cruelty follows, but director Fabrice Du Welz inserts a few moments of diabolical humor—like a tavern scene in which lumpish woodsmen pair off for a mad dance. In French with subtitles.

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