Cruel was on Moviehooker’s list for review when I was covering Fantasia International Film Festival a few months back. Unfortunately, I had some problems with the screener I received so I was unable to review it at that time.
I found Cruel hidden in the foreign new releases on Netflix U.S and it was sporting a very poor 1 star review. So, was it a one star movie, or have the French once again proved that they are among the masters in the horror genre?.
Cruel tells the story of Pierre (Jean-Jacques Lelté), a middle-aged, lonely man who constantly gets lost in the happy memories of his childhood. He lives in Toulouse and cares for his father, Gabriel (Maurice Poli), who is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Pierre is socially awkward, he spends his days working whatever temp work he can find. He moves from job-to-job, from week-to-week, always keeping to himself and never mingling with others. He is finding it difficult to make ends meet and is in a lot debt as he can’t afford to pay for the care that his father so desperately needs.
You are always with Pierre, you get an insight to how he lives and you feel a great deal of sympathy for him. He has lived his entire life with the only sign of any companionship being the reoccurring childhood memories that play in his head like a video stuck on repeat.
Pierre also carries a dark secret – in his apartment there is a basement that was built during the Second World War (the Gestapo couldn’t even find it). He is a serial-killer, and a very clever one at that. He has killed a vast amount of people and has done so for over a decade.
He abides by a certain set of rules to keep one-step ahead of the law – he must not know his victims – he must follow his victim and observe them months in advance – he must never use the same weapon twice – he must strike when they are at the happiest time of their lives to inflict as much pain as possible on the loved ones of the victims.
He toys with his victims and documents certain moments during their captivity in a small notebook. He always will ask them . “what makes you so special, why should you live?”, with one victim he shows them a picture of their unborn child – he say’s something like “take a look at this picture, this is the last time you will ever see your son” – he then grabs a large crowbar and beats him to death….this is where is the movie gets it title, the film is called, Cruel…and if you find it really disturbing and you have to turn it off, then you probably shouldn’t have put on serial-killer movie called Cruel in the first place, you have no one but yourself to blame.
Pierre’s life starts to change when meets the beautiful Laure (Magali Moreau), a woman who has struggled with the loss a loved one and is trying to get her life back on track. Pierre finds something in Laure that he has been longing for all of his life. He finds a reason to live, a reason to love, and a reason to stop killing.
How can you learn to love when the only thing you know how to do is kill people?.
No surprises that writer/director Eric Cherrière was a crime novelist before he turned filmmaker. Cruel is a fantastic journey into the mind of a serial-killer that is brilliantly written and acted.
A slow-burning masterpiece that puts you right by the killers side. The film isn’t very graphic and a lot of the actual violence is done very cleverly off-screen. The viewer is still aware of what is going on but it’s left to our imagination to fill in those brutal bloodied blanks.
I found that method of filmmaking more disturbing than seeing the violence on-screen. I have a pretty vivid imagination, I imagined some pretty hardcore stuff and it scared the crap out of me.
Cruel is now available for instant streaming on Netflix U.S – WATCH, RATE AND TELL YOUR FRIENDS.
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