Dante is a hellish planet (its surface a crackling fire-and-brimstone concoction) in deepest space. Around it orbits a psychiatric facility housing a handful of criminally insane patients, several physicians, and three armed guards. Everyone on the ship (which resembles a golden cross made out of Rubik's cubes) has had their head shaved and slinks around in almost complete darkness. The docs, manning computer screens and a device called the Answerer, experiment on patients who live in a warren of sterile steel corridors in the bowels of the ship. There are a multitude of sub-plots swirling in the miasma: a new doctor, Elisa (Linh Dan Phan), with an experimental nanobot-infused drug, a conspiracy between "warden" Charon (Gérald Laroche), and his prize patient, the hacker Atilla (Yann Collette), an aging (perhaps unstable) lead physician, Persephone (Simona Maicanescu), and a new patient (mute at first and dubbed Saint-Georges, the dragon slayer, played by Lambert Wilson) who can "see" parasites affecting the patients and is either, as the ad copy put its, "a monster or a messiah."
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Filmed in grainy 35mm, the chills begin in a broken down car on the side of a murky back road. Like a flutter of strings before a symphony starts, Palud and Moreau orchestrate this gripping scene with a diamond cutter's precision, toying with a victim before moving in for the kill. As prefaces go, the scene, engaging and thorough, serves as a sharp appetizer before the main course.
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The Brotherhood of the Wolf has all of the makings of a great French epic. Dashing leading men including Vincent Cassel (The Crimson Rivers), voluptuous women such as Emilie Dequenne and Monica Bellucci, a promising storyline packed full of complex, daunting elements of suspense and mystery, and impressive production values clearly evident in costuming and set design. The problem is that this film is about as French in style and execution as McDonald's French fries.
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