7 DAYS (Les 7 Jours Du Talion) (may contain spoilers)
Torture-porn, or even torture films in general, have become something of a joke among serious horror fans. The Saw’s and Hostel’s of this world have done that, thanks! So now, every time I mention the words torture and porn in the same sentence, I become nervous. It’s a clichéd market now and seems to only attract the gore hungry fans, those with a bit of intelligence more than likely look elsewhere. However, there seems to be a new trend with these types of film, and considering I have reviewed 3 torture-porn films in less than 2 weeks, with each one more inventive than the next, I feel it’s high time we embraced this genre once again because I feel it is now constantly breaking new ground and is becoming more inventive with more constructive stories. This genre is meant to shock, but add to it some sophistication and the genre can stand head and shoulders above the rest as possibly being the most exciting genre in horror right now. Bold words I hear you say, can I back them up? Of course! The Loved One’s, Meat Grinder, The Horseman, A Serbian Film, Grotesque and The Collector, all films of the genre, and all will shock you and delight you in equal measure. Granted some are better than others, and some more serious than others, but from that small list, you cannot deny this genre is pretty damn strong right now. This brings me to 7 Days…
From French director Daniel Grou 7 Days is yet another example of a genre at the top of its game. We are introduced to caring husband Bruno Hamel, played superbly by Claude Legault, his loving wife and their young daughter. Bruno is a well respected surgeon at the local hospital and seems to have made a pretty good life for him and his family. They live in a nice house, are well off and come across as a normal, loving family with their daughter being brought up in good surroundings with supportive parents. It’s the kind of normal family life that brings comfort while watching them on screen. No music means you get involved with them straight away and pick up on all the sounds in and around the house. The daughter’s birthday is coming up and she wants to post invitations which she has made with her Mum. Having no time, she decides to do it later and so heads off to school on her own, taking her usual route…
She doesn’t come home, the police are called and the loving parents begin to blame themselves. It’s heartbreaking to see such kind people so panic stricken and upset. Eventually the police find the daughter on the outskirts of the woods and they try to stop Bruno from rushing over to see, because the view is incredibly unpleasant. Lying in the grass is his daughter, murdered and raped and nothing is left to the imagination. In a painful and shocking scene that pushed boundaries, the camera crawls over the girl’s body so you get to see every last detail. It’s sickening; however, it helps force you into feeling much like the Father, upset, shocked, sickened, angry. It’s hard to watch, but it’s effective. The husband and wife try desperately to support each other and are in close contact with the understanding local police. A man is caught and is due to go to trial, even though, based on the evidence, it’s a clear cut case (as the police say). Seeing the paedophile’s face on the TV, with a look of satisfaction, is all too much for Bruno to bear. Revenge is the only thing going through his head, and who can blame him. He doesn’t want this pervert locked away for 20 odd years, he wants to see him scream. Some may think it’s asking too much, but rewind back to the scene when Bruno finds his daughter and then say he’s asking too much.
Bruno’s character is electrifying to watch on screen, you will find yourself drawn to him as his face becomes more intense, his eyes become darker and the caring, loving Father figure we’ve got to know is still there, but you can almost feel his burning rage building up inside. The performance is masterful. Suddenly he has become one of the scariest creations in horror I have seen so far this year! Bruno puts together a genius plan to grab his target, played with expert coldness by Martin Dubreuil, take him to an old log cabin in the woods and torture him for seven days. The seven days thing is in respect for his daughter, whose birthday was due in seven days. The plan is to torture the guy and kill him on the last day and then turn himself in. Bruno becomes distant from his wife as all he can think about is revenge. The breakdown in the relationship runs strong throughout the film, and is powerful in places and adds fuel to the raging fire in Bruno. He has not told his wife his plans as he wants to be completely alone with his “victim”.
What follows is some of the most gruelling and realistic torture scenes I have ever witnessed. I have seen plenty of violent films so I am not easily shocked. However, some of the stuff that goes on here had me gasping. Now, don’t think that we just have an hour’s worth of torture here, we don’t. It is skilfully executed by the director to give you the chance to take in and absorb EVERY punishment. As the days go on, the torture gets worse. One example is Bruno getting a bit carried away with a huge metal chain. He swipes it across the paedophile’s back and the sound effects are almost unbearable. The thud it makes is far too real, the skin breaking and the so-called victim screaming out in pain. It’s one of those scenes that will stay with you long after the film has finished, and as Bruno gets into his stride he speeds up and quite literally tires himself out doing it. Nasty indeed, but it doesn’t stop there. I won’t go into detail, but Bruno’s surgical expertise comes in quite handy.
All the while this is happening, we follow closely the police’s attempts to find Bruno, their contact with his wife and eventual contact with Bruno himself. In one powerful scene, Bruno screams down the phone to his wife about why he is doing it and the fact he is doing it for his daughter because he loves her. The detective in charge of finding him is listening in, and has a look of understanding about his face. Turns out he lost his wife a few months back and he too would’ve like to have seen the killer properly punished, but he is the law. He sympathises with Bruno, and his main reason for catching him is to stop him doing something stupid. The eventual relationship between Bruno and the detective is touching, and the two share a few conversations, but no one is going to change Bruno’s mind. We see the wife in despair, crying at the loss of her daughter and, in a round a bout way, the loss of her husband. 7 Days ingests all this family drama and police understanding for good reason, it makes this film feel like a real film and not just an excuse for violence. Getting to know all the characters, it gives you the chance to decide who’s right and whose wrong, but thankfully doesn’t give closure come then end, still allowing the viewer to do the thinking.
Back to Bruno, and the outstanding performance. During the torture scenes he doesn’t speak a word, its complete silence and this makes the whole thing all the more chilling. Torture scenes can often be ruined by an actor playing over the top, shouting and screaming and looking like he or she is having far too much fun. Bruno is cold and calculated, every move is planned, every reaction from the paedophile is expected and he has quite literally nothing to say to him. He just wants to see him in pain. However, realising his in a whole world of shit, the paedophile tries to be the stronger man by blabbing awful things about Bruno’s daughter, things that will make you feel ill. He also admits to other rapes and killings and Bruno passes this to the police. Eventually, Bruno finds a woman who just wants to move on from the death of her daughter 3 years ago, but in a shocking turn of events, Bruno kidnaps her and leaves her in a locked room with the battered and barely conscious pervert in the hope she too will hurt him. Bruno is less than please when she doesn’t, and its here that he breaks down, possibly realising that he may have gone too far. Problem is, he has now gone way past the point of turning back and so he must make a choice, a choice that is left up for you to decide in a clever move by the director.
To sum up, 7Days is yet further proof the torture film is in full swing, and further proof that if you add the human element to a story, and add some sophistication and purpose, you can create something quite brilliant and very special indeed. And that is what 7 Days is, something quite brilliant and very special, if you can stomach it