JUNE 2, 2008
Anyone want a copy of Sheitan? I didn’t hate it, but I can’t imagine watching it again. This is why I more or less stopped blind buying; I end up owning films like this. And with the ‘rules’ of Horror Movie A Day dictating that I watch a ‘new movie every day’, I never have time to rewatch something unless I truly love it. Or it’s the Halloween remake.
Sheitan was recommended by my good friend Anonymous (twice!), and other folks with better names have sung its praises as well. And it’s certainly worth watching, but I have a problem with any movie in which the back of the DVD tells me more about what the fuck is going on than the actual film does. The movie, it would seem, is just about a batshit farmer named Joseph (the always interesting Vincent Cassell) who takes in yet another group of young thuggish French citizens (do ANY French people below 30 behave in a civilized manner?) and acts like a complete nut, but since they want to fuck one another the kids all stick around anyway. Finally he goes even MORE apeshit and begins punching and kicking them, before his wife/sister literally squirts out a kid, they make a doll and then smile, and the movie’s over. Huh? But the back of the DVD tells me that they are Satan worshippers and Joseph has made a demonic pact. Gotcha.
Still, it’s an entertaining movie, thanks to Cassell’s unpredictable behavior, the oddball supporting characters (including a trio of abnormally skinny redneck boys), some truly fucked up sequences (one of the girls our heroes lust after masturbates a dog for some reason), and my not-quite-resolved quest to understand what the hell was going on and how the movie was considered horror. On the surface, it’s another “kids run afoul of rednecks” movie, but it is presented in a manner quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Good or bad is your call, but undeniably different. Even though it was late and I was quite tired when I watched it, I never even dozed for a second (my standard “forgetting to read the subtitles” sickness applies, however – maybe the demonic pact stuff was better explained), because I was just too joyfully baffled by what was on the screen. Come on, how many movies feature the characters singing lyrics like “Hit up yo grandma and rape your dad”?
The movie also won me over a bit by reminding me of Tourist Trap. At one point our heroes walk into an attic and there are mannequins and doll parts (doll eyes, doll mouth, doll legs...), just like Chuck Connors’ workshop. If there’s anything I feel is entirely lacking in pretty much all modern horror, it would be things that remind me of Tourist Trap.
The only real unquestionable flaw in the film is when it stops cold about an hour or so in (the counter didn’t work for this particular DVD – anyone else have this problem? I had no idea how much was left, ever!), as one of the jerk heroes tells a story about a girl with an ugly vagina. Not that it’s without amusement, but it’s the type of thing that should have been in the film’s first act, not the last. It’s a slow film anyway (in terms of horror/violence), to stop it dead just to tell a goofy joke is a bit unforgivable.
As for extras, nothing to write blogs about – a making of/interview with Cassell that details the origin of the film and offers some standard behind the scenes footage of no real interest (though I was surprised to discover that the hot springs seen in the film was actually a built set). Which makes two in a row from Tartan that have been pretty lacking in this department – maybe I just lucked out with my first bunch of selections from the company, all of which were pretty wealthy in the features department. A few deleted scenes would have been nice, especially since there are a couple of noticeable gaps in the story (one of the girls disappears entirely with no explanation). The trailer is also there, but I don’t consider that an extra, it should be standard, like scene selection and anamorphic transfers.
(Somewhere, a Lionsgate exec is thinking that last line is in error.)
What say you?