Director – Franck Vertiel
Cast – Clovis Cornillac, Vimala Pons, Zohar Wexler, Sifan Shao, Arben Bajraktaraj
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film I had been wanting to see for quite some time, thanks to what seemed like a really cool plot. After making amendments to my horror queue I was finally able to give this flick a watch, and while it was not as great as I expected it to be it still came off a pretty fair watch in the end.
The film begins with Tolbiac(Clovis Cornillac; Malefique) awaking deep within a dark and wet cave system. He has no recollection of how he wound up where he is, and much to his distaste he has no time to ponder his whereabouts. Tolbiac is vehemently chased throughout the cave system by some horrendous creatures, which leads him to a world within his underworld that he never knew existed. A secret organization referred to as “Eden Log” appears to be the former inhabitants of the underworld, and if Tolbiac wishes to learn why he was left in this hellish underworld he must make his way to the surface, a daunting task that leaves him the focus of attention of a powerful deity.
Boy does this flick have some amazing atmosphere. Director Franck Vestiel, assistant director for the epic French film Them(Ils), does an amazing job creating awesome visuals with superb cinematography and top-notch lighting. For such a low-budget film it is truly amazing that Vestiel got the look that he did in this flick, and it goes to show that a lack of funds forces creativity, as said by Sam Raimi(The Evil Dead) himself. The look and feel of this film reminded me much of a film that debuted a few years later, Chistian Alvart’s Pandorum. Both focus on separate stories, but the look and feel is near identical, although Eden Log debuted first in all fairness. The rest of Franck Vestiel’s direction is great, especially the usage of the monsters chasing Tolbiac. I will always be a fan of live action creatures, regardless of how they look like, and Vestiel does a great job bringing on some good creature action. I would have preferred that the fight scenes between the creatures and Tolbiac be executed a little better and less choppy, but nonetheless Vestiel got the job done.
So if the direction is so great then why only a borderline-positive 6-rating? Well, the story comes with some problems. I thought the overall storyline was pretty cool, especially because I love films in which our protagonist is thrown into a situation he/she has no knowledge of, rendering them very helpless to their surroundings. Keeping us in the dark about what is going on makes things fun as well because the protagonist is also in the dark over what is going on, which puts us in his/her shoes. What turned me off to this film was the somewhat confusing elements thrown into the film, having mainly to due with the reasoning behind why Tolbiac is thrown into the situation he is in. This idea of keeping us in the dark went on for way too long, for nearly all of the film’s runtime, which forced the film’s pacing to slow down to somewhat unbearable levels. I have no problem with a film moving slow as long as I am given something for it aka something interesting to latch onto. Sadly, that was not the case with this film’s slow development, as all we were given consisted of some not-so-interesting scenes that could not keep things going despite good direction. Despite all of this, we do get a beautiful and engulfing climax that turned out better than I expected, so at least things end well with this one.
Overall, this is a film that contains much potential but only delivers in segments. The look and visual feel of this flick is amazing, and the rest of Vestiel’s direction is mostly positive. We do get some somewhat confusing scenes thrown in throughout the film, which in the end will be up to the viewer to decide whether they work for the film or not. This is one that you will have to decide on.