Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 18th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: France, 2014
Director: Romain Basset
Writers: Romain Basset, Karim Chériguène
Cast: Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux, Catriona MacColl, Murray Head, Gala Besson, Fu’ad Aït Aattou, Vernon Dobtcheff, Philippe Nahon, Joe Sheridan, Paul Bandey, Emmanuel Bonami, Shane Woodward, Nathan Willcocks, André Kobtzeff
BluRay released: June 23rd, 2015
Approximate running times: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English
BluRay Release: Artsploitation Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $22.99
Synopsis: A young woman who has been studying psychophysiology of dreams uses her new found knowledge to help her unlock the meaning behind a recurring nightmare that has haunted her since her childhood.
Have you ever walked away from a film after feeling exhilarated by its sights and sounds? And at the same time have you ever felt equally frustrated by the same film! This is the state of mind that I found myself after watching Romain Basset’s Horsehead.
With the majority of entertainment is focusing stories that are more reality based. It is not surprising that a film Horsehead would be as challenging of watch as it ends up being. After all, the film opens with a horsehead peeking through a curtain, while what appears to be a paralyzed young woman lays on a bed. From there things get slightly more normal with a brief with a brief setup where the protagonist returns home to visit her mother and stepfather. This scene gives the characters some more depth as it reveals more about each of their personalities. And then as the narrative progress the narrative things start too awry with each new dream.
Though this is essentially a film about one characters point of view. With so much of this film’s success riding on Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux’s performance, fortunately she gives a remarkable performance that is utterly convincing. In regards to other performances this film is blessed with strong supporting cast that includes Catriona MacColl (The Beyond) in the role of the protagonists’ mother and Murray Head (Sunday Bloody Sunday) in the role of the protagonists’ stepfather. These two actors with Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux, the actress who portrays this film’s protagonist Jessica. There is a wonderful dynamic whenever these three actors are in a scene together that makes their moments together some of the most satisfying in the film.
Besides an unconventional narrative and well defined characters. Another area where this delivers and then some are its exquisite visuals. And it is said visuals where the majority of this film’s answers lies. With that being said, it is not an easy film to digest and it will take multiple viewings to unlock it many layer so subtext. Also when it comes to the film’s visuals it is knee deep in religious symbolism. With this film’s most memorable moment being a crucifixion scene.
Horsehead comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Shot digitally, this film has a very deliberate look and this transfer does a superb job retaining this intended look. Colors look appropriately vibrant, black levels is consistently strong and the image looks crisp throughout. There are no issues with DNR or compression. It should be noted that the first 500 Blu-Ray copies of The Treatment are replicated discs and that future pressings will be replicated discs.
The audio sounds great throughout as dialog is always clear and everything is balanced. And being that this a dialog film that is driven by mood. So it should not come as a surprise that when it comes to the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack that this film and its audio mixes deliver and then some. Of course of these three audio mixes the uncompressed DTS-HD 5.1 track is the most dynamic of the three audio tracks. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles that on a few occasions appear slightly out of sync with what is being said onscreen.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 21 seconds), four short film’s – Bloody Current Exchange (10 minutes 50 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in French with English subtitles), Zonebis (1 minute 5 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), Remy (6 minutes 46 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in French with English subtitles) and Faces and Landscapes of Beaujolais (3 minutes 10 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and a ‘Making of’ documentary (57 minutes 25 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in French and English with English subtitles).
Though the ‘Making of’ is loaded heavily with on set footage, there are a few moments throughout this extra where director Romain Basset and actress Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux fill in the back-story on the origins of this film, their involvement in this film and their thoughts on the final product. Also though this extra has an English language narrator, their comments are in French with English subtitles.
Of the four shorts that are included with this release the best of the lot are the two with longer running times, Bloody Current Exchange a tale about an elderly man who has invited a prostitute over to his hotel room. Without giving away too much more about the plot, this one end’s on a twist of a twist. Then there’s Remey which is a story about a six young boy and his grandfather who both just happen to have the same name Remey. The narrative revolves around these two characters who are inseparable and in many ways mirror images of each other. Also this short also has an ending that surprises you. Of these four shorts it is the one titled Faces and Landscapes of Beaujolais that sums up all you need to know about this short in its title, while the fourth short titled Zonebis is all too brief and it feels like its end right when things start to get interesting. It should be noted that these four shorts are bear the strong visual style that is also present throughout Horsehead.
Rounding out the extras are trailers for The House with One Hundred Eyes, Der Samurai and The Treatment. Overall Horsehead gets a solid release from Artsploitation Films.
Note: Artsploitation Films are also releasing this film on DVD.