Thursday, June 13, 2013

30 Days of Nightmares #13: LEFT BANK (2008)

The Story: A mysterious illness disrupts the rising career (not to mention the body and spirit) of elite runner Marie, forcing her to reasses her priorities in life.  Soon after, she begins having an affair with Bobby, an expert archer whose Antwerp apartment building sits on top of a bottomless pit that seems to amplify her troubles.

Expectations: I didn't know much about this Belgian horror film, but the synopsis intrigued me.  It sounded like an existential horror movie rather than a formulaic monster flick -- the type of thing that's hard to sum up in a logline.  Different is good.

Reaction: In many ways, this film is a ROSEMARY'S BABY for the 21st century.  There are similarities in plot, but the most important similarity is the tone.  Like Rosemary, Marie finds out that she's living in a cursed building, in an apartment formerly occupied by a woman who suffered a mysterious fate.  The environment seems somehow to amplify Marie's illness, combining Cronenberg-esque body horror with the vague specter of occult forces at work.  The filmmaker wisely keeps the emphasis on atmosphere, characterization and psychological horror, casting a subtle spell over the viewer rather than going for overt scares or explanations.  The main issue, as in ROSEMARY'S BABY, is whether or not the heroine is really experiencing something supernatural, or simply going mad.

The revelations in the final act seemed disjointed to me, but because I was so invested in the character and so enthralled by the ominous tone of the film, that disjointed quality left me feeling unnerved rather than disappointed.  I probably shouldn't say anymore, because I heartily recommend this one and it's worth seeing without knowing too much.  If you're feeling particularly adventurous, this would make an interesting double bill with Hideo Nakata's DARK WATER or the recent Hammer film WAKE WOOD.

Most Nightmare-Worthy Moment: Knee injuries always make me a little queasy, and what happens to Marie's knee in this film caused a lot of wincing.


  1. Are you tolerant of subtitles? The 2007 Argentine horror film, "The Appeared" was pretty awesome. And you know I hate watching horror movies. If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend it. Very moody, lots of chills.

  2. Thanks for the recommendation, Terri. It doesn't look like "The Appeared" is available on Netflix... Maybe I'm due for a trip to my favorite video store.