21 Days ’til Halloween, 2014: Le démon dans l’île aka The Demon Is On The Island (1983)

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Now this truly is an obscure horror film. Unfairly obscure.

If it weren’t for the fact it is French and the current trend for genre enthusiasts is dredging the depths of American (or English speaking) horror films for ever more elusive titles, I would guarantee that this one will be “rediscovered” sometime soon, released on DVD along with a limited run at hipster theaters, and find its fair share of adoring fans.

But it is in French and it’s never had an American release as far as I know, so that whole process of developing a cult following might take a while. You can play your part…if you like.

I don’t usually dwell on plot synopsis, but as the film is not very well known and primarily narrative driven, I feel like I need to lure you in with something solid. Beside, there are elements of the plot that I consider spoilers and the four people who’ve commented on IMDB don’t seem to be as scrupulous as myself. The story follows a (chain smoking) doctor, newly employed by the government of an isolated island community, as she sets up her practice and moves into her new home. She soon finds that she has been hired to replace another doctor – a shifty, ominous, leather-vested fellow – who has fallen out of favor with the community and doesn’t quite want to leave the island as of yet. The new doctor begins to investigate the “old” doctor’s practice and doesn’t like what she’s finding. Meanwhile, an unusual amount of strange accidents are occurring on the island and they all involve household items purchased at the local supermarket.

For the bulk of the movie, LE DÉMON DANS L’ÎLE feels like a “medical mystery” interspersed with unlikely accidents reminiscent of the FINAL DESTINATION films. Most of the horror comes from the threat that day-to-day objects pose to unsuspecting villagers. At one point we watch a family as the daughter cuts and dices vegetables, the mother uses a suspiciously new “micro-oven”, and the father is fiddling away in the guts of a glitchy television set. We know one of them is going to die or be horribly injured…it’s just a matter of who and when.

Part of the fun of LE DÉMON DANS L’ÎLE, apart from the joy of witnessing gruesome accidents, is waiting for the disparate story elements to be brought together. I don’t want to tell you HOW it’s all brought together, but I will say that when it is revealed in the shadows – a bit more than half way through the film – it sent a chill down my back. It’s not only a terrifying image and scenario, it’s also unexpected. It takes the movie in an entirely different direction…one that seems inspired by more than one David Cronenberg film.

LE DÉMON DANS L’ÎLE’s is marred by some too subtle makeup effects in the climax and its denouement is so bizarrely surreal and symbolic that it feels like an entirely different movie (I rather like it…it’s a slap in the face reminiscent of the talking fox at the end of Von Trier’s ANTICHRIST…my favorite part of that film) but, overall, it is a refreshingly original horror film – not too French at all – and well worth the “cult” attention I predict it will receive…eventually. Give it a few years…

The close captioning for this Youtube video is in English and it works as good subtitles, but you will need to turn them on to watch them. You can’t watch them through Youtube on Apple TV…but you can through Roku or your computer. I don’t know about other devices…

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