June 17, 2010


Roman Polanski, known now for being a messed up dude as much as a director, is actually very brilliant and creates a setting of horror that isn’t anything like you see today.  This is much more psychological then modern horror films which rely on jumps and gore to make an impact.  There is only one real jump scene in this film and you do jump when it happens, but otherwise the setting and atmosphere that is created is just off enough to make you feel uncomfortable while watching it.

The story is of an innocent girl, Carole, lives with her sister.  She has lived a repressed existence, but she seems to be functioning fairly well and just innocent with her views of the world.  She has a boyfriend who is more into her than she is him, and her sister has a married lover whom Carole is repulsed by.  When Carole’s sister, Helen, leaves for a few days on vacation, Carole’s reality starts to crumble around her.  Carole falls apart, quitting her job, and hiding herself in the apartment.  All of her troubles are compounded when she receives an abusive phone call from her sister’s lovers wife.  She imagines everything going wrong, people coming after her and removing her innocence.  When Michael, her boyfriend, becomes worried about her and breaks into the apartment, Carole believes that all her horrors are going to come true and kills him.  She does the same later with the landlord when he comes to collect the rent.

Normally I’d go to the actors next and explain what performances were good and which were bad, but besides Carole, Catherine Deneuve, the rest of the actors and actresses see only limited screen time.  So the next real thing to talk about is Polanski and his work creating this film.  It isn’t a typical horror film, but he creates bits and pieces that are just disturbing to watch.  There is a rabbit which Carole is supposed to cook when her sister leaves, but instead it is left on a plate, out in the apartment, and we see it decay as time passes, mirroring the decay of Carole’s mind.  She imagines a crack in the wall growing and eventually the whole wall crumbling.  It is hard to explain the effect that Carole’s decent has on the viewer, but compared to many psychological  horror films, Polanski does an amazing job filming it.

Another thing to consider about this film is the fact that with only one character on the screen most of the time there is very limited use of dialog.  Now most films often explain everything that is going on, especially common in horror films, and it is rare to have characters in silence.  Wall-E is the one film that I think does this brilliantly as well, limitings its dialog.  Whereas Wall-E shows love through the actions of the character extremely well, Polanski uses the silence to show off the decay of Carole.

This isn’t a film that translates extremely well to a contemporary audience, but it is a really well made film for it’s time and Deneuve’s performance is one of the best I’ve seen in a horror film.  Now people expect a slasher like A Nightmare on Elm Street or gore like in Hostel or a combination of both.  Subtle horror films are a thing of the past, but if you can get past the slower pace of the film, Repulsion is really an interesting and creepy experience.

Entertainment Grade: B+

Critical Grade: B+

Overall Grade: B+


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