Paul Bartel is the owner of a remote Inn, these days no guests stay there. Once though, the inn was a lively place, but that was when Gloria was still about. When Paul's wife Gloria left, all the enthusiasm for life he had left with her. Now she's back in his life, how ever is the person now known as Gloria the same "Woman" they once where?
Marc Stevens is a singer earning a meager living from performing at two bit gigs and living out of his van. Even though the only real adulation he receives, is from old ladies in retirement homes he sings for; he still dreams that one day he will hit the big-time. Surly it’s just around the corner. Maybe at his next engagement some distance south where he will perform at Christmas. Unfortunately for Marc, bad weather and car trouble combine to force him to make an unscheduled stop. Seemingly lost in the remote countryside he comes across a man named Boris who is looking for his lost dog in the woods. Boris directs Marc to the Inn of Paul Bartel where he can wait out the night until he can get his van fixed in the morning.
In the morning Paul tells him it will be some time before the mechanic will arrive so Marc decides to take a walk in the nearby countryside. Paul how ever begs him not to go near the village, although he will not give any solid reasons for this advice. Promising to heed Paul's advice and avoid the locals Marc sets off, however he does spy some locals in a barn and curiosity gets the better of him so he peeps inside. What he see' is a bunch of depraved country folk enjoying some of their animals in a way nature did not intend. On his return to the Inn things don’t seem quite right and it’s not long before things seem very wrong indeed. For In Marc, Paul has seen elements of Gloria or in fact he see' "Gloria" and has no wish to let "her" leave him again and so begins Marc’s Ordeal.
Calvaire is an adult horror movie, more than likely it will do nothing for passing fans of the genre who feed at the Hollywood trough and revel in it’s PG-13 slop. Its foreign, its subtitled, it moves at a slower pace taking time to develop and build. Its filled to the brim with genre homages and influences. Though this should not to be written off as a “Homage” movie, but if you’re a genre fan you will recognize many touches, from the obvious to the slightly more obscure. Not everything is clearly explained so those that want their movies spoon fed to them, instead of thinking and interpreting meanings for themselves may want to put this back on the shelf. For those of you that are still interested you however are in for a treat, because Calvaire is a modern genre movie par excellence. Straw dogs, Deliverance and Southern comfort echo in its themes as do Texas Chainsaw massacre, Don't look now and many others. For modern movies it reminded me at times very much of King of the ants and maybe it’s closest recent counterpart would be Wolf Creek. Make no mistake though this film makes Wolf Creek seem as mediocre as it really was. Calvaire is beautify shot, amongst stunning, yet foreboding countryside. While it is obviously a lower budget film, it looks very good. Its' well scripted, well thought out and powerful. like Irreversible, it once again proves not everything extreme on film originates in Asia.
Personally I never get bored of weird towns and unfriendly inbred locals in movies with the aforementioned Straw dogs, Deliverance and Southern comfort pretty much being the holy trinity of the sub genre in much the way Romero's dead cycle (The first 3, not the mediocre Land) are to the zombie sub genre. While its difficult to say how well a film will stand the test of time I would say Calvaire has a shot at joining them. Even though it is influenced by and to a point homages them, it would be difficult to make a movie like this and it not. Calvaire certainly has enough elements to make it it's own movie. Look out for the bar scene in which the all male inbred patrons of the local bar have a impromptu surrealist shindig to rival any ever put on film, a scene so good it makes the film worth seeing by itself. Everything you want from a city slicker trapped with crazy rednecks is in place, all that’s left to wonder is will it be a case of squeal piggy squeel ... oh you know it will, its just a case of when!
Genre fans who have heard mute buzz on the internet or even walked past it a few time and thought "Should I?" yes you should Calvaire is insane country dweller class!