Sheitan Movie Review

France's Vincent Cassel rivals Johnny Depp for the title of most-gifted-mainstream-actor-to-star-in-the-most-beguiling-movies. Johnny had Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Dead Man. Vincent had Irreversible and this film. But Vincent's French and Johnny just lives in France, so that gives Vincent an easy out -- his choices are just very-French. Johnny's are just odd. (In a good way, of course.)

In Sheitan, Cassel plays a farm caretaker, Joseph, who walks around like SpongeBob Squarepants (his legs all bowed and stiff like he just got off a donkey), has an overbite that rivals Jerry's Lewis', and wears a Borat moustache. Oh and he's also in league with Satan and lives in a town of deformed hillbillies. Yeah, it's one of those movies. Sheitan joins Calvaire and The Hills Have Eyes, and a few other films that I somehow always end up reviewing, in a category all its own -- hillbilly horror. And yet Sheitan is so gonzo, so incredibly off the wall, that it stands out among these misshapen movies. The most offensive and mind-numbing of a very offensive and mind-numbing genre. Mind you, offensive and mind-numbing is not synonymous with good.

The plot in some ways mirrors that of the recent gross-out hit Hostel. A group of wanksters goes out on the town at Club Styxx (no symbolism there) and after a night of carousing (getting drunk, getting in fights, flirting) speeds off to the country where one of them hails from. This army of brats quickly learns that the decaying farmhouse they're staying in -- and the entire town surrounding it -- exists in some sort of backwater Twilight Zone. Forget playing the banjo cross-eyed, these freaks all swim naked together in an artificially colored hot springs and fight and make out. Not friends, but brothers and sisters and.... gag. The whole sordid affair gets down-right apocalyptic when the clock strikes 12 and Cassel's monstrous pregnant wife/sister prepares to deliver a baby that just might be the Antichrist. The last few minutes of the movie make the last few minutes of Rosemary's Baby look like an episode of Mr. Rogers.

Sheitan is the product of a collective of young French hipsters called Kourtrajme. There are hundreds of members (around the world) and nearly everyone involved is under 30. And it certainly shows. The humor here is on the scale of the Farrelly brothers movies, there are some weak attempts at political commentary while the cast is an interesting mix of ethnicities. Most of Kourtrajme's output has been music and short films, but Sheitan marks its first feature length production. The goal here is shock and freedom from censorship. But there is no message in Sheitan. Its' just gag upon twisted gag, and unfortunately for Kourtrajme, the only reason to see this film is Cassel's hilariously sick performance. And while he's brilliant, that's hardly a recommendation.

Like a cross between Kids and Deliverance, Sheitan is just wrong on so many levels that the mind boggles. Oh yeah, Sheitan is Turkish for Satan. Why? Who cares.

Cast & Crew

Director : Kim Chapiron

Producer : , Kim Chapiron, Eric Neve

Starring : , Olivier Bartelemy, , Nico Le Phat Tan, Leila Bekhti, Ladj Ly, Quentin Lasbazeilles


Sheitan Rating

" Grim "

Rating: NR, 2006


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