Halloween is right around the corner, which means it’s time to start queuing up your annual horror movie marathon that celebrates all the genre classics—with maybe a few goofy outliers thrown in to mix things up. But, let’s say for the sake of argument that you want to turn things up a notch this year. Let’s say you want to eschew the traditional blood and guts slasher flicks, and instead watch something truly fucked-up. Well, the burgeoning genre of New French Extremity might be just what you’re looking for. Fair warning: This shit is pretty messed up.
As the name suggests, New French Extremity deals with extreme situations and taboo subjects. The films regularly feature disturbing body horror, home invasion plots, and sexually violent scenarios. Simply put, it’s not for the faint of heart. But, as YouTuber Ryan Hollinger argues in the above video, the genre is not just about violence for violence sake. Often the extreme brutality of the films functions as a metaphor, either for the emotional trauma the characters fail to confront or the audience’s own voyeuristic relationship with pain and suffering.
While these films often have the look of flashy, modern productions, their use of provocative subject matter has ties to centuries-old traditions like Henry-Francois Becque’s “Theatre of Cruelty” and the work of the Marquis de Sade. Whether the intellectual validity of said films is enough to outweigh the stomach-turning visuals is up to the individual viewer. Is that individual viewer you? Maybe this is your year to find out.
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