Saturday, 16 April 2016


A shocker about finding hell in Thai jungles, VINYAN: LOST SOULS (2008), casts an unlikely pair, French beauty Emmanuelle Beart and English actor Rufus Sewell, as parents Jeanne and Paul, searching for their young child lost in an Asian tsunami. While Paul is coping with grief, distraught Jeanne is unwilling to accept her son’s death, insisting they go into the Burmese wilds, paying dangerous triad smugglers a fortune every step of the way towards an increasingly bitter disappointment. Paul throws screaming ab-dabs in frustration over their quest failures and he worries, ironically, that poor Jeanne is losing her mind – but she really is... 

Feral kids, abandoned and isolated, turn homicidal and cannibalistic in a Lord Of The Flies way that is more chillingly nasty than believably tragic. Despite the occasional flashes of camera technique, and brilliant editing, or location–set designs; the smoky, foggy, rainy and grainy visuals are simply over-cooked and do not evoke the surreal intensity so obviously intended. Rumbling and screechy sound effects quickly become annoying with such blatant overuse.

Belgian director, Fabrice Du Welz – maker of similarly-weird plunge into madness, The Ordeal (aka: Calvaire, 2004), which meandered through boring details of its waylaid travelling-protagonist’s variously humiliating torments, only to greet a bleakly ambiguous final scene – is once again trying far too hard. Instead of sticking with a straightforward but possibly thrilling ‘rescue mission’, or perhaps a ‘misadventure’ story - like John Boorman’s underappreciated Beyond Rangoon (1995), Du Welz prefers blundering onwards to some pointless or endless dread, throwing around pretentious allusions to unlucky, unwary, unthinking people finding entry to suspiciously unearthly realms.

Rufus Sewell in VINYAN
Overall, so lame it was probably conceived and born without legs, Vinyan is lamentably and utterly nonsensical, yet it manages, infrequently and briefly, to at least look very good. If ‘le filmmaker’ could only bring himself to restrain all of his toxically ‘arty’ impulses he might produce something that’s genuinely scary.   

This review was published in Black Static #14 (December 2009).

In that issue, I also reviewed:

The Uninvited
Blood Rain
Blood: The Last Vampire
Silent Night, Deadly Night
The Hide
A Perfect Getaway
Dorian Gray

Man Bites Dog
H6: Diary Of A Serial Killer
Three... Extremes 1 & 2
JSA: Joint Security Area
I'm A Cyborg, But That’s Okay 

Dark Water
The Eye

Dawn Of The Dead
Night Of The Living Dead
A Tale Of Two Sisters

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