STUDIO: Synapse Films
GENRE: Horror, Sci-Fi
RUNNING TIME: 83 Min.
DIRECTOR: Philippe Robert
CAST: Johanna Andraos, Marjorie Dubesset, Vincent Lecompte, Sophie Michard, Franck Monsigny, Patrick Mons, Romain Ogerau, Livane Revel, Yann Sundberg, Thomas Vallegeas
RELEASE DATE: December 14th 2010
TAGLINE: Watch Your Step!
PLOT: A perfect getaway for a group of friends turns into a nightmare in this amazing French micro-budget horror/sci-fi film! Thomas, Yann, Vincent and three female friends hop into their cars and travel to the French mountains for a relaxing weekend trip. On their way, a dangerous psychopath escapes from prison and there’s even talk of a ghostly female apparition haunting the area. After picking up a suspicious hitchhiker, a thick fog envelops their cars and sends them all over a steep cliff! Barely surviving the fall, they soon discover something even more horrifying. An ancient creature lives under the ground… listening and waiting. It’s ready to devour anyone and anything in its path and this group of friends is very much on tonight’s menu! (from http://synapse-films.com/)
FILM: Every so often we're treated to the indie film that despite (or because of) it's meager beginnings transcends it's micro-budget and slaps you upside the head with it's great writing, good acting, surprising visuals and winning indie-spirit ...enter RESONNANCES (2006) from French filmmaker Philippe Robert. There have been a good number of great horror titles coming outta France this past decade including HIGH TENSION (2003), INSIDE (2007) and LA HORDE (2009), all stylish and unflinching stuff. RESONNANCES is not as polished as nor as bloody as these films but what the filmmakers have been able to put to film is truly fantastic stuff.
The film opens in the French countryside in the year 1663 as a young woman is walking through a wooded she witnesses a meteor slam into the earth. She's knocked unconscious by the impact. When she awakens the ground swells beneath her, something is stirring. Startled she runs for her life through the wood pursued by creature which travels underground in a way that disturbs the soil a'la TREMORS (1990) by way of CADDYSHACK (1980). Stumbling terrified through the woods she comes to a stone wall, clawing and scrambling she is unable to climb the facade. The thing violently slams into the wall and the ground erupts in a shower of dirt and stone. We don't see it but we know she's a goner for sure.
Present day we're introduced to three friends - Yann, Thomas and Vincent. Three pretty average late-20's dudes 'cept for Vincent who's the most hardcore gamer I've ever seen. He comes quipped with a Gameboy holster at his side and festooned with a kick-ass Elektra t-shirt he's a bit of a smart-ass and sarcastic as hell. The three are on on their way to a BBQ with Yann's girlfriend Karine, Elodie and Tina. The latter having a bit of an unrequited crush on gamer Vincent who jerkily refers to her as "Tuna" and explains he'd rather jerk-off to Lara Croft than stick his dick in "Tuna". I really enjoyed the interactions of the characters, the dialogue is light and fun with good natured ribbing between the guys, very snarky and natural. After dinner the group hit the road en route to a mountaintop getaway. The guys lose sight of the girl's car and end up running out of gas on a forested route known as The Road of the White Lady, a place of legend where for years there have been reports of a ghostly white apparition and missing travelers. The trio push the car to a gas station that appears unattended and when Thomas goes inside to leave payment he is startled by a mysterious stranger who tags along with them (bad idea). Back on the road the foursome see what appears to be the fabled White Lady and lose control of the car careening off a steep embankment only to be conveniently saved by a tree. From there a passenger is extracted by the creature and the shit hits the fan, let the fun begin.
The story itself is hardly original. There are elements of EVIL DEAD (1981), the aforementioned TREMORS (1990) and NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (1986). Lack of originality aside what makes RESONNANCES so much fun is it's winning spirit and loving homage to genre films.
The creature itself is digitally rendered with Syfy grade effects that more or less work without drawing attention to themselves. I'd put this on the level of a kindred-spirited indie horror film called INFESTATION (2008). There's very little gore here, but great use of miniature sets and decently rendered lo-fi digital effects, good stuff. What Writer-Director-Editor-Cinematographer Phillipe Robert has been able to muster here is pretty miraculous and a hell of a lotta fun.
DVD: The SYNAPSE FILMS DVD release of RESONNANCES (2006) comes with a non- anamorphic 1.85:1 letterboxed transfer stemming from the fact the the film was shot on non-anamorphic standard definition video. The film definitely shows it's limitations during the night scenes (i.e. 95% of the film) but the film is engrossing and it works despite it's technical shortcomings. Two audio options are included; a French language Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 stereo soundtrack with optional English subtitles. The only supplemental material being a Theatrical Trailer. I would have enjoyed a commentary, this is an indie horror feature that has a lot of love put into it and a commentary would have been appreciated.
VERDICT: RESONNANCES is a fantastically satisfying sci-fi horror romp that oozes passion project from start to finish. It's funny without being stupid and it's tense without taking itself too seriously. If you're a fan of TREMORS, THE THING, or INFESTATION I know you're gonna enjoy this. A high recommend from me, if you're in my area look me up and we'll watch it together, bring some beers and we'll have a blast...or pick-it up when it comes to DVD from Synapse Film on December 14th 2010. ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)