As some of you will be aware, I recently completed a TikTok-recommended series on Extreme French Films. The 13-part series was quite popular on both TikTok and Facebook so I thought I would get an article written and tell you about the films.
Extreme French Language Films were game-changers in the way of hardcore af films. What was called the French New Wave Extreme Movement gave birth to some of the most horrific and cruel films to be ever put on screen. Here’s a list of those films. Some of you will definitely know, but I am hoping to hook you up with some lesser-known gems. Let’s get to it.
After his car breaks down on the way to a Christmas gig in an old people’s home, Marc is offered help by a seemingly nice old man. He is given a roof over his head and the man promises to fix his van so he can be on his way the very next day. Marc then starts to notice cracks in the old man’s friendliness and before he knows it, he is tied to a chair. For some reason, the old man now thinks Marc is his wife who ran away with another man.
Mutants is an excellent indie spin on the zombie sub-genre. It follows a couple called Sonya and Marco who manage to escape to the outskirts of the city when a highly contagious virus turns the infected into flesh-eating mutants. They find refuge in a large run-down, abandoned medical facility. After an altercation with some infected Marco is infected with some bad blood. The film is mainly about “When is it okay to pull the plug on someone?” and it is approached in a really human way.
I watched it recently and it wasn’t as brutal as I remembered it to be. Still, it has its moments and was still a damn fine re-watch.
IN THEIR SLEEP
In Their Sleep slipped under the radar for a lot of people. I am hoping this is one that not a lot of people know about. The film follows a serial killer who targets people in the harshest way imaginable: He creeps into bedrooms where his unknowing victims lie peacefully asleep. Making no sound whatsoever, he sneaks up to them and slices their throat.
When there is violence, In Their Sleep approaches it in a way we are not used to in horror. The use of complete silence really amplifies the uneasiness and makes you sick to your stomach.
The best way I can describe this zombie epic is ” The Raid meets 28 Days Later”. A tremendous amount of fun and a must-watch for any fans of the zombie sub-genre!
A group of cokehead criminals have taken over a run-down high-rise apartment building. When a group of cops raid the building to arrest the gangsters, the building is flooded with hordes of infected zombies. Now, unlikely partnerships must be formed as cops and criminals must join forces if they are to make it out alive.
Starring the one and only Vincent Cassell in what I can safely say is his damn creepiest and most sinister role ever. The film follows a group of young adults invited back to a countryside farmhouse. When they arrive they meet, Jacob, who is known locally as The Shepard. it ain’t long before the group learn the true purpose of their being there.
An absolute blast to watch from start to finish. I would even say there are some elements of comedy in there too. But this comedy is for the blackest of souls, for the darkest of minds. So, if you’re reading this then you probably fit that bill.
Xavier Gens teaches us how to mix old-school horror inspiration into a masterclass of cinematic brutality. It is evident that Frontier(s) is inspired by the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes.
It follows a group of your usual young adults who flee Paris due to rioting. They have to make a stop for the night at the border so decide to go to a run-down hostel/hotel. Unforutaleny for them, the place is run by a horrible group of Neo-Nazis who are about to show their own brutal form of hospitality.
7 Days is a French/Canadian flick and is one of the best films in the revenge films. Even though there are only two people in the movie for a lot of the time, the direction puts you right in there with them. If there were any more than one “victim” (I Say that lightly), the film would be too much.
After his young daughter is found abused and murdered, a doctor fueled by pure rage and anger is not satisfied with the judicial system. He has a plan to break the killer out and take him to a remote location to torture him for 7 Days. Being a doctor, he knows how to inflict the maximum level of pain while keeping him alive and lucid so he can feel every bit of it.
Before this director and writer got into making movies, he was a crime novelist. I knew something was a bit different when I watched Cruel for the first time. The film was clever af; about a serial killer who never killed the same way twice.
Cruel follows Pierre, a depressed labourer by day and a clever serial killer by night. Pierre carefully chooses his victims. He keeps them captive in a hidden bunker that his family built to hide from the Nazis during WW2. So, if you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in that bunker, believe me, there ain’t no one coming for you.
A dark and twisted character study of an evil, disturbed mind.
TROUBLE EVERY DAY
Before the rise in cannibal movies like We Are What We Are, Raw, Grimm Love, Cannibal or the most recent Bones and All, there was the OG, Trouble Every Day. This is a film by High Life (great sci-fi with Robert Pattinson) director Claire Denis. The film also stars the wonderful Beatrice Dalle (Inside)
A newly married couple heads to Paris for their romantic honeymoon. What the wife doesn’t know is that the husband has a dark hidden agenda: he wants to find a girl from college whom he experimented with sexually, a girl whom he has been obsessed with ever since. What he doesn’t know is that this girl is now locked away for everyone’s safety. If she gets out of her locked room, she seduces men, has sex with them and then eats them alive.
The directorial debut from directing duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury. Inside is one of the more well-known titles in French Extreme Films and there’s a very good reason for that. If you haven’t seen this one yet and you are reading this…and pregnant – do NOT watch.
Inside is about a heavily pregnant woman who must spend Christmas alone in her large house after losing her husband in a road traffic accident. One night a woman dressed in menacing bridal black enters her house for one purpose only: to cut the unborn child from the stomach of the mother.
After Switchblade Romance (High Tension) director Alexander Aja went on to make his English language debut with the highly impressive remake of The Hills Have Eyes. Again, with Switchblade Romance you can tell that this is a man who has been heavily inspired by classic horror. I mean that in the best way possible.
Two college friends go to the South of France to stay on a family farm. When they arrive, so does a serial killer in a creepy truck with overalls on who wants to wipe their friends and her family from the face of the Earth. This is one brutal af movie with some fantastic choices of cinematic horror weaponry.
Megalomaniac has yet to be released. It is coming soon but trust me..this one definitely belongs on the French Extreme Films list.
Martha and Felix have grown up in the shadow of their disturbed father who was a serial killer known as The Butcher of Mons. He staled the streets of Belgium in the ’90s, killing women in the cruellest and nastiest way possible. As the pressure and abuse rise, Martha and Felix find themselves continuing their father’s legacy.
In my opinion, I am saving the best for last. Martyrs is a favourite horror movie of all time. A brutal tale of revenge and psychological terror steeped in religious radicalism.
Two friends called Lucie and Anna set off from their nun-run orphanage in search of Lucie’s childhood kidnappers armed with only a shotgun and a thirst for vengeance.
This was Pascal Laugier’s second movie. I would also recommend that you check out his first film which was called Saint Ange (House of Voices). It couldn’t be any more different than Martyrs but was a damn good, yet simplistic ghost story.
Anyway, that’s it for this list. I hope I have hooked you up with Extreme French Language Films you ain’t heard of, or you want to revisit.
As always, thanks for reading.