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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sheitan is Eating Your Brain

Since it's October and Halloween is just around the corner, I've been watching a horror movie every night this month. 

Sheitan (2006) directed by Kim Chapiron has to be the creepiest movie I have seen in a long time.  And the thing is, the really disturbing thing is - it sneaks up on you with its creepiness.  It is so filled with dark comedy that by the time the real horror is ready to break you’ve almost been lulled asleep.

The movie Sheitan, over the course of its hour and a half run time, goes from slightly odd in an uncomfortable but amusing sort of way to disturbingly violent and grotesque.  What begins as a group of urban young adults partying at a club becomes a living nativity scene of hillbilly horror replete with three not-so-wise men and the Christmas day birth of a decidedly un-messianic child.  There is a dragon snake[i] and a woman named Eve offering her friends an apple.  The movie is littered with religious symbols that have been turned upside down and inside out. 

It all begins on Christmas Eve in the club Styxx – named after the river of Greek mythology that divides Earth from the Underworld (the word itself means “hate” which is also appropriate to the movie) – where a group of three young men are partying to the amphetamine fueled music of Sheitan (“Satan” in Arabic).  When they are thrown from the club after a drunken brawl, they are invited by their new friend, Eve, to spend Christmas at her country home.  It sounds like a good time, and she is very alluring… so they agree.

Sheitan is eating your brain

On the way they meet her family’s groundskeeper / shepherd, Joseph (played by Vincent Cassel -whom you might recognize from Oceans’ Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen as well as Black Swan).  Joseph who doesn’t seem to know any strangers grins manically at them through the rest of the movie.  The movie will have been over for several hours before that toothsome grin begins to leave your mind.

There are some people who just make you uncomfortable by their very presence, not by being rude or malicious – but instead by being too friendly, too immediately intimate. They invade personal space without being aware of their intrusiveness.  This is Joseph.  He laughs too loudly at inappropriate and offensive jokes.  He touches people who’d rather not be touched.  He assumes an undeserved level of camaraderie and trust despite the fact that he’s still a stranger to these guests that Eve has brought to her home. But they can’t get away from him. He’s there at every turn with that grin.

But that oddity – that discomfort that is at the same time amusing and disturbing – is slowly ratcheted up, becoming more and more unnerving. By the end of the film it has ceased to be merely ‘odd’; it has reached a fevered and delirious state of psychosis. It’s rough – bloody and gruesome.  The twisted revelation at the end of the movie comes not so much as a surprise, but as a ghastly “oh my god…”

As a word of warning - this is not a movie that my mother would like.  (Not that she’s a fan of horror movies in general…)

1  a Tarasque – a legendary dragon from Provence.  I had to look it up, but I’m glad I did.  

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