The Horror Honeys: “La vengeance est un droit humain.”

“La vengeance est un droit humain.”

A Revenge Honey Top 5

The Best(?) of French Revenge Horror

When it comes to the revenge game, very few countries have released films as violent, as terrifying, or as elegant as France. Never a country to do things by halves, their horror films have always tended toward the extreme, but as the title of this list suggests, the French believe that revenge is a human right. (The line is from Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible.) So the following five movies are my favorite not because they are fun movies to watch (Godzilla knows some of them are impossible to watch more than once) but because they exemplify what is best and most interesting about French Revenge Horror. So settle in and dig down deep for a bigger set of whatever balls you need, because this list is a fucking doozy kids.

1) Irreversible: The tagline for this brutal and exhausting film is “Le temps détruit tout” or “Time destroys everything.” While not a traditional horror movie per say, anyone who sees Irreversible and isn’t totally horrified by it must be some kind of robot. The film, shown in reverse chronological order, features a nine-minute long rape scene and one of the most brutal on-screen beatings of a woman I have ever witnessed. The rest of Irreversible is about revenge, love, sex-workers, incest, homophobia, and violence… Basically this is a movie that will leave you feeling miserable and sad and begging someone to take you to a Disney film ASAP.

2) Inside
: After the first time I saw Inside, I didn’t talk to another woman for two weeks… You know, just in case. On Christmas Eve, days away from giving birth from her first child and still grieving the death of her husband in a car accident, a young woman finds herself ferociously tormented by a strange lady just outside her apartment. To get into the “revenge” part is to ruin the movie, so I won’t go into details. Let’s just say that by the time this movie was over, I wasn’t too sorry about my decision to adopt kids rather than pop them out of my lady bits.

3) Martyrs: “Martyrs are exceptional people. They survive pain, they survive total deprivation. They bear all the sins of the earth. They give themselves up. They transcend themselves, they are transfigured.” The basic plot of this existential and excruciatingly detailed film is that 15 years after her horrific abuse as a child, Lucie decides to seek revenge against her tormentors with the help of her friend Anna, an abuse victim herself. However, there is so so SO much more to Martyrs than meets the eye. The definition of “love it or hate it” cinema, this movie will fuck with your head in ways only the French can do, because simply, they don’t play around.  

4) Baise-Moi: Almost no one has seen this film, with good reason. First, the English translation is “Rape Me,” so, there is that. Also, the director and stars are all porn stars. And, you know, the film features real sex scenes, which lead to it being banned in Australia and Ontario. Amazingly enough, however, the violence was never much of an issue, which is interesting considering the film is about two women who go on a bloody rampage of murder and sex after one of them is raped and the other witnesses a shooting. Anyway, the film is balls out insane and if you have a strong stomach, totally worth checking out.

5) Diabolique (1955): Unequivocally THE classic French revenge film, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, Diabolique is part revenge film, part thriller, part ghost story, and it will drive you absolutely crazy trying to figure out what the fuuuuuuuck is going on. Besides being high on terror but low on gore, Diabolique features what I consider one of the greatest and most underrated terrifying scenes in the history of horror cinema, rendering bathtubs just as frigging scary as showers. If you haven’t seen this French gem, see it NOW. The Revenge Honey commands you!

That’s my list for this week! If I left any of your favorites off, let me know!