Lucas and Clementine live peacefully in their isolated country house, but one night they wake up to strange noise… they’re not alone… and a group of hooded assailants begin to terrorize them throughout the night.
Now we’re cooking with gas. Ils is a nasty little french film from 2006, which offers up a story we’ve all seen before, but in a very satisfying way. No, it’s not satisfying in the way that You’re Next was satisfying, but it really does offer up a pretty scary (and short) experience in less than 80 minutes.
Starting with a great opening scene, Ils sets a great tone, and maintains it right through to the finish. I found myself tense and nervous in the first moments of the film, despite being perfectly aware of the direction the story was going to go. A mother and daughter, who clearly have some relationship problems, find themselves stranded on the side of the road, mom gets out to look at the car and, well, you can probably figure out what happens to them.
The story is simple, and doesn’t try to cram a huge amount into it, working really well in it’s short run-time. Written and directed by David Moreau and Xavier Palud, who later went on to write and direct the American remake of The Eye (which isn’t great, but doesn’t suck either), really haven’t done a ton that you would have heard of since 2008; kind of a shame really.
The cast is pretty small, and centers primarily around Olivia Bonamy as Clementine, and Michael Cohen as Lucas who both do a good job. The rest of the cast is great as well, there really aren’t any low points in that department. Even the bratty-teenager character manages to pull that off in a believable way. Arguably, they don’t have a lot to do except run or scream, but they manage to be compelling and likable people that you want to see make it through the ordeal.
This one shows up on a lot of lists with movies like Inside, Martyrs, and High Tension, but I’m not sure I’d include it among them. Where those are good movies in their own rights, they became infamous because of their brutal and realistic violence and gore, where Ils is successful because of its tone and pacing, as well as the intensity that comes from the way the film is shot. There are moments of violence and even a bit of gore, but in no way is it one of those hyper-violent, brutal movies that I mentioned. It does share some of the bleak tones that those movies have though, particularly in the end.
If you’re looking for something dark and intense, you’ll find it with Ils. It managed to make the sound of those spinning noise makers menacing and terrifying, and something that will likely make me jump if I hear it again. It’s a grim, mean, and intense little movie that is (allegedly) based on a true story, but do with that little tidbit what you will. With that said, it doesn’t stray too far outside the realm of possibility, so who knows.
Watch this one.
MY RATING: ****