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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest/Trieste Science + Fiction review – Hostile (2017)

My notes.

In a Moroccan desert location seemingly a stone’s throw from the ruins of New York City, tough chick Juliette (Brittany Ashworth) scavenges for cans of food and other supplies by day – intent on getting back to a survivors’ base camp before dark.  After an encounter with a dying man and an unseen ‘Reaper’, Juliette drives homeward at speed but is distracted when a mnemonic couply photo of her in happier pre-apocalypse downs blows out of the window and turns her armoured van over.  With a broken leg and only random tools and weapons at hand, she calls for help – which won’t arrive until the next dawn, and attracts the attention of a gangly-legged, melted-faced Nosferatish former human being (Javier Botet) who seems to be some sort of vampire-zombie-mutant hybrid and presumably represents hordes who have brought about the downfall of civilisation.

 

The set-up seems to promise something between Curve and I Am Legend, with the heroine trapped in her vehicle fending off something that wants to eat her … but instead that photograph comes into it, and the survivalist snippets are interspersed with flashbacks that have Juliette meet cute with suave NYC gallery owner Jack (Gregory Fitousse) at a Bacon exhibit while sheltering from the rain, then follow her up and down arc as she overcomes drug addiction and moves from a lowlife apartment to Jack’s chic Hudson riverview flat then has a marriage which segues between idyllic and problematic (with a difficult pregnancy) before looping back into the apocalypse storyline as the end of the world breaks out and we get a clever resolution of it all back in the girl vs creature frame story.

 

French writer-director Mathieu Turi takes an unusual approach, and asks a lot of his leading lady – you could cut separate trailers selling this as a horror-action film and as a posh urban romance/relationship drama, and Ashworth has to play radically different leading ladies who are still the same person.  Fitousse is a fantasy wealthy lover-father-husband-rescuer-prince but the busy monster specialist Botet is an equally fantastical persistent menace – triangulating on the vulnerable but toughened Juliette.  It leads to an entwined climax which offers an emotional resolution rather than conventional action, suggesting a hint of the influence of Monsters in using a big genre backdrop for a small intimate story.

 

A few odd frills – this features another instance of 2017’s favourite movie death method, the head that splatters like a ripe melon when stomped on; and this is the second French FrightFest entry called Hostile (there was a demonic movie of that name in 2015) – following FF’s penchant for selecting multiple films called Broken – and shouldn’t be confused with the Western Hostiles, also due out soon.

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