After being recommended "Sheitan" from a couple of different (and very reliable) sources, this little French modern Horror flick finally found its way into my movie player. Now after watching it, I'm still not sure how I truly feel about it. I want to like it very much, but find myself troubled with too much of it to say its as good as many claim it to be. When its good, its VERY good, but overall it just lacks the cohesion (perhaps logic is the better term here) and depth needed to really pull it off.
A group of young French hooligans meet up with a mysterious club on Christmas Eve. Following her out to her 'house in the country', aka inbred-ville, they discover that despite the joyous occasion the local folk are less than fun. Under the wing of the girl's often too extreme handyman Joseph (Cassel) they attempt to have a good time only to find that there may be more sinister intentions by these folk then inviting them to hang out.
Seemingly unclassifiable, "Sheitan" has some very awesome moments. Cassel as our villain Joseph is easily the highlight of the film. His bug-eyed shit eating grin laden face can both promote a goofy comedic side of the film along with give it the most intense creepy affect all at the same time. His performance is something to be admired (considering how different it is from some of his other roles like his drunken cowardice in "Eastern Promises") and definitely the best part of this film.
The director's vision also keeps this film moving in positive directions. Chapiron really utilizes nice elements like camera shots and movement to really keep the story interesting despite its rather slow moving first 3/4 of run time. If it wasn't for this visual creativity, than "Sheitan" might have been a snore-fest for a good portion.
Unfortunately, its cool visual look and single performance aren't enough to carry it through. "Sheitan" slowly poors itself to build on a rather thin and basic plotline which takes far too long in far too thin detail before it reaches its final half hour where it twists into a nightmarish landscape of blurred dreamlike quality and impressive intensity. Takes too long for not enough payoff.
The film also massively suffers from a lack of logic for its rather unlikable main cast. Why the hell do they follow this random girl to the middle of nowhere? Even taking that for granted, why the hell stay as things get really fucked particularly after the warm springs debacle? I mean, none of the characters are all that likable and the audience sure as hell could care less if they get knocked off, but still I care about logic. And many sequences don't quite hold enough to make it flow and work like it should.
"Sheitan" has a lot of potential in its dirty, slightly comedic sleeves, but it rarely pulls it off. Luckily, with a nice visual flair and a solid villain performance, it was still worth the one watch. Not quite what I wanted from this French film.
BONUS RANT: What the hell is with the random dog fight in this movie? I kept expecting the dog that came with the young folk to be a larger plot point, but it ends up being sort of this forgotten element that randomly perks up for one seen of intensity towards the end and then...disappears again.
Written By Matt Reifschneider