Sheitan, released in 2006 and directed by Kim Chapiron, is a horror film that is apart of the New French Extremity movement. The New French Extremity movement featured transgressive films that dealt with challenging, dark, and subversive subject matter in brutal and realistic ways. Sheitan exists on the more absurdist slant of that category of films, but the way it is filmed, as well as the aesthetics and style, lends itself to the movement. The film concerns four friends who get thrown out of a club on Christmas Eve due to their friend Bart’s aggressive behavior. They go with a girl, Eve, back to her farmhouse where they meet Joseph, played excellently by Vincent Cassel (who looks a lot like Nigel Thornberry in this role), the bizarre and satanic housekeeper. The film is incredibly slow-paced, and there is no payoff until the last fifteen minutes or so, and that is definitely to the detriment of the film.
There are about six primary characters in the movie and the majority of them, except Eve, Yasmine, and Cassel’s Joseph, are incredibly abrasive and annoying. I have watched plenty of slasher movies and horror movies in general that feature annoying characters, but this movie takes the cake. The three male leads, other than Cassel, are douchebags; they spend the majority of the film trying to get into the girls pants, even at times when they are being pushed away. Bart is the protagonist of the movie, and he is the most unlikable of the bunch. I would say it is brave to make your leads so unlikable, but it makes the film a miserable chore to watch.
Sheitan is heavily inspired by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it doesn’t feature the same intensity, originality, or style that movie featured; instead, what we get is a slow-paced and bizarre horror movie that takes far too long to pay off. Cassel does an excellent job as the antagonist Joseph, but his performance cannot save the film, and by the time you reach the climax, the payoff doesn’t feel good enough. I appreciate the bizarre, almost surreal atmosphere that the movie is trying to give off, but for the majority of the film, I was bored. It does get insane at the end, but it doesn’t save the entirety of the film.
Sheitan is a strange movie with disgusting characters, a slow pace, and not enough going on. I appreciate the performance from Cassel and the utter bizarreness of the final act, but it is not enough to save the movie.