Take elements of Rosemary’s Baby and Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy, mix in lots of female nudity, toss in one cup of a where-did-so-and-so-disappear-to plot and then put them in a blender at high-speed. What do you get? A far more interesting movie than Left Bank.
Marie (Eline Kuppens) is a dedicated runner well on her way to the Olympics. But when a blood infection sidelines her, she moves into her new boyfriend’s apartment to recuperate. Soon, Marie learns the previous tenants disappeared. Could it have something to do with the puddle of black mud hidden in the basement of the complex?
Left Bank marks the directorial debut of Pieter Van Hees and is the first chapter in his Anatomy of Love and Pain trilogy. I’m guessing Hees watches a lot of Lars von Trier films because Left Bank is as pretentious and dull as a Trier film. While the story is intriguing, the film takes forever to get going and offers very little to keep us occupied. But once it does get going, it continues taking its sweet ass time getting to its destination – so long in fact you’ll be convinced Left Bank was conceived as a drama and then had some horror elements tacked onto it. The film would have been fine as a 30-minute short. But at 102-minutes, it becomes gruelingly tedious.
Atmosphere is key in supernatural horror films. Sadly, Left Bank leaves that off its keyring. I’m guessing Hees thinks muted colors, occasional cuts to images of the overcast Belgian countryside and silent black-and-white footage is atmospheric enough. Forget about creepiness or scares. There isn’t an ounce of either to be found in Left Bank.
And I cannot forget to mention the jack-in-the-box ending – which, I’m guessing, is supposed to be thought-provoking, but left this reviewer staring at the screen in wide-eyed bewilderment before erupting in laughter at how seriously it takes itself.
While the acting is solid on all fronts, the performers aren’t given much material to work with, resulting in flat, uninteresting characters. You simply don’t care what happens to any of them, another key element of supernatural horror Left Bank fails to deliver.
On the plus side, there’s nudity. And the soundtrack has its moments. And it does end. Eventually.
Left Bank left me bored. Lacking all the key elements to making a successful horror film, Left Bank is strictly for those pretentious souls who’ll love it simply because it wallows in its own self-importance. Drown this film in a puddle of black mud and go watch something else.