Leave it to the French to make a metaphysical slasher movie that climaxes at the end of Jean Renoir's Moulin Rouge, screened during the last days of a small-town cinema about to be torn down to make way for a clothing store. Laurent Achard's film, commissioned for a series of genre pictures by pay-TV channel Canal Plus, deliberately plays up the disreputable, unrealistic aspects of Italian giallo and cut-rate slashers, revelling in the incongruencies and subtexts of the plot the director devised with co-writer Frédérique Moreau: psychotic projectionist-cum-manager Sylvain (Pascal Cervo) runs the theatre and kills women on the side, slicing off their ears to add to his collection, apparently inspired by a childhood trauma glimpsed in the occasional flashback.

     Dernière Séance is pure metaphor of the id, with Sylvain's "above ground" life in the theatre opposed to his "underground" obsession (he lives in the cavernous cellars of the building, decorated with old film posters). The approach is certainly intriguing, and is in keeping with the director's usual thematic interests; but Mr. Achard takes both the seriousness of the plot and the playfulness of the treatment with far too much stiffness, resulting in a rather indigestible combination of awkward horror movie tropes and over-thought, overwrought psychological drama, full of intriguing ideas left half-baked by the film's over-arching self-awareness.

Cast: Pascal Cervo, Charlotte van Kemmel, Karole Rocher, Austin Morel, Brigitte Sy, Mireille Roussel, Corinne Lamborot, Noël Simsolo, Francine Lorin-Blasquez, Nicolas Pignon

Director: Laurent Achard
Screenplay: Mr. Achard, Frédérique Moreau
Cinematography: Sabine Lancelin (colour, processing by Arane Gulliver)
Designer: Frédéric Lapierre
Costumes: Bénédicte Levraut
Editor: Jean-Christophe Hym
Producer: Sylvie Pialat (Les Films du Worso in co-production with Dragon 8, Mikros Image and Arane Productions)
France, 2011, 78 minutes

Screened: Curtas Vila do Conde 2012, Teatro Municipal de Vila do Conde, July 8th 2012.


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