Sheitan (2006)

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?


  1. Haha, yeah I thought the same when I saw it. I mean, I think Vincent Cassel is fabulous and all, but seriously what the fuck?
    Also, it was strange hearing Monica Bellucci do the voice overs as his "wife" when, ahem, it clearly isn't her.
    French people are fucking weird.

  2. Tried to watch it myself, aired on Sundance Channel on 5/31, but after 20 minutes of realizing my H.S. French is terrible I gave up. Might have been a great movie but the version that was aired wasn't dubbed or sub-titled.

  3. I'm just glad someone else actually saw this film and knows the horror of having witnessed it. Man what a bizarre movie. Almost felt like something Crispin Glover would have been involved in. lol.

    The scene in the hot springs is about as uncomfortable a scene as I've seen in a long time, both as a viewer and imagining the filmmakers and crew standing around filming it.

    Freak show.

  4. This is actually one of the first movies I Netflix'd, and I too had heard its praises sung which led to the selection. My reaction It was disturbing enough (esp. the hot springs scene--though that might be considered a problem when the most disturbing visual has nothing to do with the graphic "horror" elements), and the WTF-ery was occasionally entertaining, but at the end I was thinking, "Okay, WHY did I watch this? Why did someone make it?" The only answer to the latter I could formulate was, "To be as strange-for-strange's sake as possible and discourage Americans from going to France on vacation." Which actually, now that I think of it, sounds like something the French would do.

    I didn't hate it, but I didn't exactly like it either. As you say, definitely different, but in this case I'm not convinced that merits a recommendation.

  5. Nothing to write a blog about... ha.

  6. i watched it today. feel pretty much the same. but i did have a strong desire to shower after - like the movie left residue on me... (which i think would somehow grotesquely please the filmmaker...)

  7. i watched the movie but not the uncut version.
    I wonder about somebody told me that the uncut
    version is showing a sequence where Roxane Mesquida (Eve) is masturbating a dog ...

    Anybody knows which part of the movie is showing that scene?


Movie & TV Show Preview Widget