Ils is the 2006 French horror film starring Olivia Bonamy & Michaël Cohen. Written and directed by David Moreau & Xavier Palud.
Given how “based on” films are often the telltale signifiers of the dearth of original material to glean a full feature from, Ils is far from the usual fare. One could argue Ils’ writers sought to possibly curb that notion by the relative fleetness of duration. An hour and thirteen minutes to be precise. That is an assumption, that the writers shifted their efforts from, for example, adherence to fact to making it work with less. That’s one thing. Secondly, and although it is essentially a home invasion horror, it keeps its cards very close to the chest for as long as possible, which for a lean run time comes with the risk of either front- or backloading its story. Opening with a tense eight-minute scene packing in stop-and-go, pull and tug action (action as in the antonym of speech), it flies fast. In one fell swoop a good chunk of time is knocked out and the film starts to pick up at the half-hour mark, more or less the halfway point of the film. That makes it a tale of two halves pacing wise; its front and back. It is a unique and subtle structure possibly indiscernible for viewers more used to the three-act flow. And it works. Effectively.
When it comes to revenge, no other topic inspires the level of hackneyed simplification as regards how two quintessential quotes get misused. “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Or its preferred variation among the highbrow intelligentsia, “Revenge is a dish people of class eat cold.” Confucian’s more misunderstood quote is equally overused but holds within an overlooked meaning. “Before embarking on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” No where else are the flag-bearing mantras as cringeworthy as with revenge but that goes without saying for a path less trod. In its defense, the latter example is not content with merely restricting the act to just its outcome. It stretches the scope to the series of events likely to cascade from a would be avenger’s choice. Basically, revenge is a Pandora’s box of counter-restitution. A portal to the endless questions to answer for at the end of the rabbit hole, if you will. For the previous quote, I’d always saw its author insinuating eating fancy delicacy, a luxury unaffordable to common folk, which where the people of class exclusiveness comes in. Or cold pizza the following morning, something common folk regularly indulge in. Which may explain the omission in the shorthand version. Either way, as vengeful fantasy is as universal an impulse as lust, the one glaring omission from Maslow’s hierarchy, I’ve come to understand the quote to mean that just like fine wine needs time to age, only a connoisseur would know when to uncork. And though hardly the perfect summation, it gets one thing right… revenge is not something haphazardly undertaken. Despite it being the soliloquy of the hand. This isn’t to say there is a certain level of craftsmanship to uphold, vis-a-vis winemaking, merely the due diligence to maintain your preservation in the end. The right vintage for the occasion? The right moment to strike. What murder kit to use. The cat and mouse aspect of the chase. These go into the process that by the time you’ve mapped it all out, you’ll probably have to reheat the oven, and rekindle the bloodlust. So there is some method to the madness. Personally, I subscribe to the Machiavellian school of thought which, considering its rogue leanings as a governing policy, has no practical relevance to vigilant justice and individual application. So make what you want of your payback, is my disclaimer. Now, Blue Ruin. Continue reading →