Folies Meurtrieres (1984)

I like change.

I like it when I’m challenged to grow and adapt to whatever path life takes. Change helps us to focus and make things better. We learn from it. No matter how stressful we might feel in the moment, there is always a victory lap.

In other news, I just watched Folies Meurtrieres.

Everything has changed. This victory lap will never end.

A woman sunbathes by a lake that is under an overpass. Someone is watching her! The woman drives home. Someone is still watching her! She eats dinner and washes the dishes. Again, someone is continuing to watch this person! Suddenly, the woman is attacked by the watcher, who wears a pillowcase over their head and coveralls in the style of the killer from My Bloody Valentine. The killer chases the woman into a room. She locks the door! She turns around! Blood drips from a bureau! Cautiously, the woman approaches. The bureau doors burst open! A zombie is inside!! The killer bursts in the room, attacks with a pitchfork, and leaves a pile of guts on the floor.

To be clear, this was not a dream sequence, an hallucination, or a movie-within-a-movie. This was just the first of five vignettes to materialize from the spectral-void-slasher known as Folies Meurtrieres.

The movie opens with an onscreen warning:

“This film is not for highly sensitive people.”

Obviously, this message was meant to caution viewers who are not comfortable with seeing a head burst after being placed in a vice. But not-so-obviously, this warning works in another way — it weeds out the jerks who don’t understand. This movie was shot on Super 8 by first-time gore-monger Antoine Pellissier in a French suburb. It’s next in the short line of exceptional trash-horror experiments that are not for human audiences. This one’s for the mutants. The outsiders. The people who accept their own for who — or what — they are. This one’s for us.

Like Day Of The Reaper and Ogroff before it, Folies Meurtrieres is a movie about nothing. It’s structured like a combination of Eric Rohmer’s Moral Tales and a compilation tape from mail-order-horror sleazoids W.A.V.E. Productions. That is, if Rohmer’s movies were less about falling in love and more about axes made out of tinfoil. In Folies, there’s a killer on the loose. This killer rides a motorcycle, stalks victims, and mutilates them in various locations with a chainsaw, garden shears, and anything else that happens to be within reach. That’s it. It’s basically Ogroff Takes A Vacation. But like Lucio Fulci’s approach to Zombie, Pellissier finds strength in simplicity. There’s no story to follow, so our senses roam. We eventually pass through the entrance to a beautiful new un-world.

Folies Meurtrieres is an exercise in no-fi style. This may not have been intentional on the part of Pellissier, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that all 50 minutes of this movie feel like a life-changing mixtape from the coolest goth sister you never had. The warbled synth-pop soundtrack channels a pillow fight between Goblin, Depeche Mode, and Trio’s Casio collection. The blown-out photography is inventive and suggestive, jumping between gorgeous handheld compositions and imagery that looks like it was soaked in light leaks on film that expired in 1963. Ambient sound effects (owls, wind, cats) are mismatched against an editing style that can best be described as epileptic. This is an audio-visual steamroller, pushing scenes that are already bizarre to a new level of madness. Have you ever seen a car that bleeds? If so, it never looked like this.

Then something happens.

While the first half of Folies Meurtrieres is all tape hiss and senseless violence, the last twenty minutes change all of that. And in keeping with everything else in life, the change makes things better. The slasher tropes in the movie are swapped for a real-life plot, an unbelievable climax, and an unexpected left turn that made me clutch my couch and feel thankful to have eyes. This is exactly what I wanted. Without these changes, the movie would be entertaining. But with them, it’s essential.

There are exactly eight lines of spoken dialogue in Folies Meurtrieres. The last of those lines is: “Her vengeance was fulfilled.”

Still lapping.

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