Friday, January 4, 2013

Trouble Every Day (2001)

Ah Claire Denis, I did not expect you to turn up on my list. I must of selected Trouble Every Day during random googling of phrases such as "unknown horror", "european horror", and "transgressive film". The plate of shrimp in this case is that my English professor showed us a film, Beau Travail, also directed by Denis (pronounced Deni) last month.

As such, I totally recognized her style and as soon as the Comic Sans title sequence ended (which I mentioned to a friend who joked "I would have turned it off") the film thrust an audience of one into a creeping tale of suppressed lust.

The striking element of Trouble Every Day is that as one who's been with the genre of horror for awhile, I totally knew its tropes. I knew the seductive femme fatale shown in the beginning was going to kill men after seducing them. I just knew that the American couple's honeymoon in France would not be hunky-dory. I just knew the two teens were going to unleash the femme fatale's dangerous lust. However, I did not know that it would take long shots of gritty French interiors and wordless character development that diverts from the established protagonists to follow the hotel maid to get to these conclusions. Denis rejects "horrality" in all its self aware glory by not letting the tropes propel the film. Instead, the camera's focused eye maintained a brutal grip on the narrative. The audience suffers unease while the camera lingers on places instead of gazing upon the actual horrific events.

Adding with the horror tropes, the "explanation" of the characters' vampirism/cannibalism/sexual bloodlust derives from a Resident Evil-like scientific experiment with rainforest plants containing hormones or some such biochemistry that changes humans. There were beautiful shots of stirring rods spinning in beakers and flasks being shaken on electric shakers. Mechanical repetition that contrasts with the organic irregularity of the characters' lifestyles.

Even though I identified these tropes, Denis refuses to completely align with them and demands the viewer make their own connections. The most powerful scenes are those with blood. Beautiful blood. Breathtaking crimson arabesque that leaps from shredded capillaries and paint the external world. These are scenes of pure transgression where the internal fluids become an external hue. As a result, the violence and the sex are the most concrete actions in the film. Trouble Every Day is a successful, artistic horror film because the reasons for the violence don't matter. The tropes don't make the film. The tropes are a product of showing me the true violent lust capable within a human being.

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