The Final Girls

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New French Extremity

There was a brief, bloody moment in the late 90s to mid 00s when French cinema turned vicious.

Graphic, boundary-busting sex and explicit violence started permeating arthouse French cinema and, later on, the horror genre.

Film writer and TIFF programmer, James Quandt, christened this period New French Extremity in an article where he rammed into the movement for centering films on scenes of excessive, glorified violence. But they’re about so much more than that.

The films of the New French Extremity put the visceral at the heart of the cinematic experience and have been dear to our black hearts since the very inception of The Final Girls. Our first screening, in May 2016, was of Claire Denis' much maligned cannibal love story Trouble Every Day - a haunting exploration of desire taken to its very disturbing extreme. We're now excited to be able to dive into the glorified gruesomeness of this particular subgenre of French horror film history with our BODY TROUBLE event.

Fascinated by their (and our) penchant for graphic violence, we present an exploration of a distinctly female brand of body horror: the terrifying ordeal of pregnancy (Inside) and the all-consuming obsession with unachievable physical standards (In my skin).

Our first film of the evening, Inside, turns up the dial on the home invasion thriller to create an unrelenting cat-and-mouse chase between a pregnant photographer (Alysson Paradis) being hunted in her own house by a mysterious woman (Béatrice Dalle). The directors of film, Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, wanted to subvert the stereotype of the hunter always being male.

Marina de Van’s In my skin is an equally graphic, almost lyrical, exploration of an ambitious young woman’s descent into an inexplicable pattern of self-mutilation after a car accident left her unable to feel pain.

Both films have the female neuroses at its center, and peel back (sometimes, literally) every layer of it until the core is left exposed. The films of New French Extremity push the boundaries of what we expect from women in horror, and confront the anxieties of the female body with vivid detail.

Olivia Howe