Directed by Joël Séria [Other horror films: N/A]
What makes a slow-burn movie good? It’s upon examination of this question that will lead to whether you will like or dislike this film. Known in the USA as Don’t Deliver Us from Evil, this French film is an interesting one, and as alluded to, quite the slow-burn. But does the ending pay off?
The plot of the film is simple, in that two Catholic girls decide they want to push the limits and sin (welcome to the consequences of religious oppression). For the first hour and twenty minutes, there’s very few horror elements – it’s just the two girls going around doing ‘bad’ things of varying degrees (poisoning canaries, setting bales of hay on fire, teasing men with sexual come-ons), and it feels somewhat aimless, in many ways.
Eventually, when something more in the realm of the genre happens, things pick up a bit, but that’s in the final twenty minutes of the film. Now, what doesn’t make this a complete loss is the fact that the two main actresses Jeanne Goupil and Catherine Wagener were amazing in their roles. They were both very convincing, both as innocent Catholic schoolgirls, and then as randy, sensual young women wanting to explore the more lustful side of life (on a side-note, for a good majority of this movie, it seems like a coming-of-age story).
Honestly, for a French film, this was pretty tame. Despite plenty of scenes of the two young women in their underwear, never once is lesbianism encroached upon (I’ll be honest, I was expecting something like that from the very beginning), and while there’s occasionally nudity, it’s pretty brief. And the two attempted rape scenes are both more on the mild side, at least compared to other such scenes of the same time period.
Instead, they attempted to build up to the end, which somewhat worked, but a somewhat shocking final minute of the film doesn’t really excuse an hour and forty minutes of very little happening beforehand. Still, Don’t Deliver Us from Evil occasionally had a chilly vibe, helped along by a very haunting soundtrack that popped up multiple times throughout the film.
A classic of sorts, with pretty high ratings from various sources, this movie didn’t entirely do it for me. Fantastic acting aside, it was just way too slow, despite occasionally showing us some interesting scenes. No doubt I was pretty engaged during the whole of the film, but I was hoping for something more than the great ending they had. If you’re a practicing Catholic, though, this film will probably be a lot more effective.