A great horror movie makes more of an impression on the psyche than any other kind of film. Hell, even a bad horror flick can scar you for life. There’s a phrase that every seasoned horror fan loves to hear: “Have you ever seen . . . ?” For the next 31 days, John E. Meredith will unearth some of his personal favorites that fell through the cracks, that are not so obvious, the kind that might even sneak up on you while you’re trying to sleep. Repulsion 1965, UK. Directed by Roman Polanski. Written by Polanski and Gerard Brach. Starring Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, Yvonne Furneaux, John Fraser. Carole Ledoux has some issues. As she sits manicuring the knotted hand of an old woman in a beauty shop, her face is empty and almost trancelike. Thinking she’s ill, her boss sends her home early. She walks past the catcalls and lusty glances of construction workers as if she barely notices them. But that night she imagines that one of them breaks into her bedroom and rapes her. Every night she lies staring at the ceiling, terrified, waiting for her sister to come home with her married lover. When they finally arrive, Carole listens for the moaning and groaning of sex in the room beside her. After staying awake all night, in either dread or anticipation, she now pulls the pillow over her head in hopes of blocking everything out. Roman Polanski had made a successful debut with KNIFE IN THE WATER in 1962, capturing the cinema world’s attention. For his second feature, he took the simple scenario of a woman losing her mind in a London flat and worked it for all it’s worth. He based it on a girl both he and his screenwriter knew and had found, in Catherine Deneuve, the perfect young actress to bring her to life on the big screen. Deneuve has the perfect face for the role, somewhat yearning and sexual while remaining cold and distantly vacant. She plays Carole with the flat effect of someone on the edge of madness, uttering so little dialogue that her performance is almost a horrific mime. The whole movie plays like a gothic case study of a fragile psychopath. Everything starts to fall apart when Carole’s sister leaves on a holiday with the boyfriend. Everyday items become objects of dread: the razor, a man’s undershirt. Silence is broken only by a ticking clock, the steady drip of water from the sink, the incessant buzzing of flies. For some reason, there’s the corpse of an uncooked rabbit on a platter in the living room, slowly rotting away. The passage of time is shown through potatoes growing eyes as she slowly succumbs to her psychosis, an increasingly hallucinatory descent into mental-health hell. The sound of nuns laughing outside becomes a kind of haunting. She takes the rabbit’s severed head to work in her purse. A ray of sunlight falls across the chair opposite her and she reaches over to try and wipe it away. When a young man tries to steal a kiss, Carole is overcome by both attraction and repulsion, leaping from the car. She races home to lock the door and furiously brush her teeth. She hallucinates her sister’s lover trying to attack her. Pushing the dresser up against the bedroom door, she then changes her mind and lets him break down the door. In the morning she wakes up naked on the floor, having physically acted out the imagined rape. The rooms start to change shape. Cracks suddenly appear in some walls while others turn to clay when she touches them. When she tries to walk through the apartment, hands reach out for her . . . And then someone breaks into her apartment for real. There is no tidy explanation given for the deterioration of Carole Ledoux’s sanity. Even PSYCHO, which this film was unfairly accused of imitating, tried to tack a convenient psychological excuse onto the end of the movie. However, as she is carried away to get some help after going completely and bloodily over the edge, we turn to find an old family portrait. The young face of one of the sisters gazes out, standing apart from everyone else, looking empty and trancelike. See larger image Repulsion (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] A Belgian manicurist hallucinates in London and kills anyone who comes near her. Director Roman Polanski’s first English-language film. New From: $25.11 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.