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The Ordeal
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The Ordeal (2004)

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Plot Summary:
"After a late-night gig, a lost lounge singer whose car has broken down stumbles into a terrible and secluded hotel where a series of atrocious and increasingly violent events take place."

Review by
Phil Davies Brown
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Review Date: 18 April 2006 My Rating: out of 5


Fabrice Du Welz's controversial love story is a wonderfully realised and disturbing piece of cinema.

When Singer Marc Stevens breaks down in the Belgian Wilderness on a cold and stormy night, he meets a strange young man named Boris who is searching for his dog. Boris leads Marc to a nearby Inn, where the proprietor, Bartel tells him that he will fix his van for him.

Marc begins to notice that Bartel is a little odd and we soon realize that Bartel is deeply disturbed. Unfortunately for Marc Stevens, we can only watch in horror as he realizes far too late that Bartel is going to make sure he never leaves him.

What ensues is particularly disturbing, as Stevens is then forced to take on a physical resemblance of Bartel's missing wife Gloria and all of the things that go with that. None of it however is as disturbing as the moment Marc stumbles upon a group of villagers sodomising a calf!

The film is aesthetically beautiful with gorgeous yet creepy location photography, atmospheric sound design and vast barren landscapes adding to the existing sense of dread felt by the protagonist and the audience.

The film unsettles, thanks to the inclusion of some genuinely creepy moments such as midgets in red rain jackets and a piano tune that shouldn't work musically but does, and in the end we are left stunned and unsettled as we try to figure out what we have just witnessed.

Calvaire is a simple yet effective chiller which will make you wince and despite comparisons to Misery and Deliverance the director's fresh artistic approach makes it that little bit different.

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