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Marc Stevens is an itinerant singer. He's just given a concert at an isolated hospice. He hits the road again, but his car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.
Mr. Bartel, a hotel-keeper suffering a psychological breakdown since Gloria, his wife, left him, takes him in.
Marc's nightmare begins.
Calvaire by Fabrice du Welz (Belgium/France/Luxembourg, 2004, 90 min.). Calvaire is a blunt shocker that has sparked comparisons to the holy triptych of “survival” horror films: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Straw Dogs, and Deliverance. Prepare yourself as first-time director Fabrice du Welz leads you down a path that gets darker with every step. Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas) is a small-time singer on his way to a Christmas engagement when his van breaks down in the forest. He is forced to find a run-down inn where he can stay the night. Mr. Bartel (Jackie Berroyer), the innkeeper, promises to call a mechanic, but in his eyes, the lost crooner is a surrogate for his wife, who left him years earlier—and Marc Stevens becomes his helpless captive. Calvaire fits into a curious place between art-house experimentalism and blood-drenched horror, with an undercurrent of grim comedy. Be warned: the film does feature some brutal imagery. Description adapted from the Toronto International Film Festival.