Sunday, November 3, 2013

"Don't Deliver Us From Evil" - - The Downward Spiral

"Don't Deliver Us From Evil" doesn't have a trailer as far as I could tell but the above video sums it up: This is the story of two girls on a random warpath of destruction during an otherwise lazy summer.

Anne and Lore are two 8th graders who have decided that sin is the greatest thrill one can experience. As students at a local Catholic school, they play the part as good students but spy on their teachers, steal vestments, and pocket communion wafers instead of eating them. Their goal is to become "brides of Satan."

Everything they do is about sowing seeds of chaos. It is never clear if they truly believe that Satan is some sort of god to them, or that they just choose him as an outlet of total rebellion against their church, but it doesn't matter. For Anne and Lore, anything goes and motive seems thought up after the crime.

Anne is the dominant of the two and Lore is her loyal follower. Their parents are aloof and unaware of the warning sings the children are showing. Anne tortures a cat twice in front of her parents with little reaction. The kids become bolder: they rat out a nun for being a lesbian, they set fire to a neighbors' hay stockpile, and they kill the mentally disabled groundskeeper's prized bird collection
"We kill them one at a time," Anne tells Lore.


"So he suffers more. If well kill them all now, he'll have a bad time once then get over it."

Anne, being the leader, presses Lore to heavily flirt with two different men. Both times, Anne leaves Lore alone and both times she almost gets raped. It becomes obvious that Anne is using Lore. It is also obvious that Lore will do anything to please Anne.

"Don't Deliver Us From Evil" was the debut film for writer and director Joel Seria. Like many first-time filmmakers, he felt a need to go to extremes. This movie was banned in France because of the sacrilegious nature of the film. Priests are buffoons. Nuns are lesbians. The slow groundskeeper dresses like a priest to marry the two girls to Satan, and afterwards they dump communion wafers, blessed by a priest, into a swamp. This movie also has a disturbingly strong sexual content for a story about 8th graders. Both the actresses were 18 at the time the movie was filmed, but they don't look like it. By the time the fourth bra-and-panty scene came on, I was wondering when the FBI was going to break down my door.

This is one of those weird movies that is interesting to review. I loved it. I thought it was well filmed with great acting. The movie was innocent yet sinister. The girls were always causing havoc yet still seemed like victims of the world at large. As the movie slowly creeps towards the inevitable conclusion of a summer of sin, you can't help but feel sorry for these two kids. It's just not an easy movie to watch. I looked online and I couldn't find any confirmation that they didn't really kill those birds. Yes, birds. The video above is only one time they kill a bird. Anne comes back later and snaps another bird's neck. And again, I don't know if this was fake. This movie is from the 70's by a first time director. Sometimes it's easier to go with the authentic kill rather than make it up. But that poisoned bird, yeah, that wasn't fake.

And these birds don't have a happy ending either.

And if you don't mind watching animals get killed (and a cat being treated like trash), you still have to put up with a 8th grader getting sexually assaulted. Twice. So it's not a fun movie. It's well made and tells an interesting story but it carries some unusual baggage with it. It's been a few weeks since I watched this and the ending scene still creeps me out. The ending clip is on Youtube (but it's in French with Spanish subtitles) if you want to watch it, but watching these characters fall deeper and deeper down a moral black hole only to end up like that . . .if you can stomach the disturbing content this is a good film about foolishness of evil and the follies of youth.

And me too, for watching this film.


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