Requiem (2001)
By: M. Walsh on September 15, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Siren Visual Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). French DD 5.1. English Subtitles. 92 minutes
The Movie
Director: Hervé Renoh
Starring: Patrick Dell'Isola, Moussa Maaskri, Julie-Anne Roth, Marc Chapiteau, Jean-Louis Loca, Jo Prestia
Screenplay: Hervé Renoh
Country: France
'What is the worst film you have ever seen?'

I'm sure that many of you have been asked this question. Horror buffs are prime candidates for such stupid inquiries because, after all, we do watch some pretty awful films.

Bad Films are assessed, for the most part, on their incompetence. But it is their incompetence which makes them both funny and entertaining. There are a myriad of Bad Movie moments that are, in fact, wondrous displays of ineptitude as a surrealist art form. Take, for example, the infamous "dummy fall" in Zombie Holocaust. It is a defining Z-movie moment and one that has given countless viewers a great deal of pleasure. There are other such moments in the film that inevitably raise a chuckle, or an eyebrow, or both. Yet it's a Bad Film. No question about it, the thing is terrible. And it is this paradox that has become of grave concern to me.

Don't worry, I'm going somewhere with this.

It's fun to point out a film's shortcomings, to laugh at its crippling faults. This is not an elitist pastime. This is not malicious. There is an understanding here. We want to see another actor forget their lines and look directly at the camera. We want to see the strings that carry the UFO through the air. We want to see the obviously fake severed arm complete with suspicious looking "hump" behind the actor's back. Yet if such things become the very reason that the film holds a place in our subconscious, and if the wretched photography and laughable dialogue and horrendous effects are instrumental to the enjoyment that is derived, then surely that in itself is enough to elevate the film beyond its technical limitations. If a movie succeeds in entertaining its audience, does it really matter how this is achieved?

With the advent of user-friendly filmmaking software, Bad Films such as Zombie Holocaust have almost completely disappeared. Anyone with access to iMovie, a digital camera with mpeg capabilities and a whole lot of patience can unleash onto the world whatever horrendous, epilepsy-inducing pile of crud they want. Gone is the sense of naivety, the belief that, hey, they tried their best. "Bad" has become polished, aseptic and safe. The UFO's strings have been painted out. When a film is bad now, it is bad on a whole other level.

Which brings us to Requiem. I am very sorry that we took so long to get here but I really had to make the distinction between a bad film and a Bad Film before continuing with the review.

In this abysmal thriller from Herve Renoh, four escaped criminals find themselves stranded at a monastery after their car breaks down. The monastery is abandoned except for a young female backpacker (Julie Anne Roth), a weary old priest (Simon Eine) and Christian, a pensive monk with a heart problem. Christian, played by Patrick Dell Isola, acquired his heart condition after being shot during a bungled robbery. You see, Christian was "killed" when he tried to protect a young girl from suffering the same fate as her parents, namely being gunned down in cold blood by the ferociously-hairy Marcus (Moussa Maaskri). His efforts were in vain, of course, as Marcus shot the little girl as she ran toward Christian, the bullet hitting them both in the process. His four accomplices escaped and Christian "died" on the way to hospital. Then, miraculously, he came back to life. This "resurrection" exonerated him from his criminal activities (I have no idea how) and the fact that he ratted out his partners probably didn't hurt either. Not wanting to stick around and wait for his incarcerated friends to eventually track him down, Christian devoted his life to the Lord, accepting a life of quiet servitude and hiding himself away in a monastery somewhere…

I think we all know where this is going so I won't bother insulting your intelligence the way that this film insulted mine. 'Let's have the criminals wear bad ass leather trench coats and walk around in slow motion a lot because that's never going to go out of style. Priests with guns? Awesome! Twist endings are popular these days so let's throw a few of those in as well. It doesn't matter if it doesn't make any sense because research shows that our target audience is comprised entirely of man-children and drug-addled Goths. Women are only interesting when they're being sexually assaulted, or naked, or both. Having characters yell all the time is a great way to let the audience know what they're feeling.'

Requiem is not the worst film ever made. Not by a long shot. But it is a heartless exercise in derivative filmmaking. It is self-important, completely unremarkable and devoid of any imagination at all. There are thousands of films just like it, appearing on our retail shelves with terrifying regularity. The only thing that separates them from the rubbish that is churned out by the studio system is their budgets. Perhaps instead of spending the money on bitchin' firearms and sweet explosions, Requiem should have invested in some refurbished mannequins, preferably ones with detachable limbs.
This is a pretty horrible transfer. The level of noise in the picture is almost unbelievable at times. There are plenty of compression artefacts and detail levels are poor at best. This is a dual layer disc, by the way. You'd never know it if I didn't tell you.
While Requiem's sound mix is of a reasonable quality, the music and effects themselves are not. With that in mind, the channel separation here is actually pretty effective and there are no pops or clicks to speak of.
Extra Features
A slew of trailers round off the disc. I should also mention that the subtitles are removable. I won't even bother making an ironic observation about the previous sentence.
The Verdict
We can't survive on these scraps alone and we shouldn't have to. We cannot afford to be reduced to a median demographic. We have to draw the line between supporting films like this in the hope that something good will come of it, an Audition maybe, or a Switchblade Romance, and taking a stand against these faceless approximations of our favored genres. Requiem is a bad film, but not a Bad Film, and I therefore have no empathy for it at all.
Movie Score
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