(5150 RUE DES ORMES)
As I watch a movie, I can usually pinpoint certain ideas, characters or plot points that remind me of other films. 5150 Elm’s Way, on the other hand, is a completely original and compelling film that belongs in its own category. I have never seen a film like this and I am SO surprised this isn’t bigger in the United States. With the wave of French horror films over the years, including À l’intérieur, Martyrs, and Haute Tension to name a few, it is a wonder and shame that this film (even though it is French-Canadian) isn’t named among them.
It tells the story of Yan, who is a disappointment to his parents. When he is accepted into film school, he takes this as his chance to prove them wrong. While working on his first assignment, Yan falls off his bike, bloodying himself and derailing his bike. He stops at a nearby house to make a phone call and clean himself up. While inside, Yan hears a man yelling for help upstairs. He goes to investigate and the homeowner, Beaulieu, locks him inside. Curiosity killed the cat.
Now this isn’t your average “help captive and tortured” kind of film. In fact, there isn’t a lot of gory imagery until the very end. Beaulieu, the kidnapper, seems like a typical family man with a wife and two daughters. Interestingly enough though, the whole family knows that Yan is being kept against his will and that it is not the first time the head of the family has done something like this. They are a religious (and perhaps psychotic) family and seem cringingly normal, a fact that makes this situation far scarier.
I guess if I HAD to compare it to another film, it could be closely related to Chained or Frailty, which may give you the inkling that Beaulieu is grooming his family to take over the family business to “rid the world of sinners.” But Beaulieu agrees to let Yan go if he can beat him at a game of chess, not to mention that Beaulieu is a champion chess player and has never lost a game in his life. Chess… seems like timid child’s play huh? Trust me, this is the most sinister and malicious game of chess ever played.
The fantastic thing about this film, besides the stellar plot, is the cinematography and the visually stunning dream-like scenes when Yan starts losing it from being in the secluded room. He experiences weird hallucinations and paranoia, feeling as if the room is closing in on him and sinking in blood at one point. Such cool imagery, reminiscent of Renton’s withdrawal and baby visions in Trainspotting. The characters themselves are also well developed, unique, and exceptionally portrayed. With the demeaning husband, the downtrodden wife, the maniacal older daughter and creepy younger daughter, there is not one dull minute. I wouldn’t call this film “scary” in the traditional sense, but it is a mind-trip with some highly shocking parts. 5150 Elm’s Way is a tense, ticking time bomb that is not to be missed.
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