New French Extremity Cinema is a movement of very visceral, body horror films that were made at the beginning of the 21st century. These films often have very visceral and explicit depictions of sex and violence, and often breach the boundary between art house film and horror. These films often deal with unconventional relationships between people, and deal with representations of the self under extreme mental pressure. I am interested in this version of the self under the conditions of very intense mental strain, and how this leads to visceral acts of violence. In my own work, I would like to explore this relationship further.
In My Skin (2002)
‘In My Skin’ is a film directed by Marina de Van, and depicts a woman who cannot feel pain in the same way as others, to cuts herself in order to test her pain tolerance. This gradually develops into greater acts of mutilation, hysteria and hallucination, until the viewer is unsure if what is happening is in the central character’s head, or is happening in reality. The self-mutilation is very violent and visceral, and it makes one wonder about the limits of the human ability to withstand pain, and our natural fetishisation of it. I am inspired by this work to look further into ideas of the body, and how we construct ourselves, view ourselves and test ourselves.
Ma Mere (2004)
‘Ma Mere’ is a film directed by Christophe Honore, which tells the story of a very unconventional relationship between mother and son. The story tells of the incestuous relationship between the mother and her young adult son, as well as her sexual exploits with multiple other partners. The end scene again is very disturbing and visceral. as the mother asks her son to slit her stomach whilst he masturbates. She then proceeds to slit her own throat. I am very interested in the idea of the son as taken from her body, and the difficulty that arises from the piece of herself that she has unnatural sexual feelings towards. In this end scene, as her stomach is slit by the son, there is a return to the womb for the son in some sense, as aims to gain entry into a purer version of himself, back to his mother. I am interested in these very visceral scenes, which display metaphors for the self, and how the mother reacts to herself. In my own work, I want to examine these these of mental distress in relation to unwanted feelings towards the self.
Haute Tension (2003)
Haute Tension is a film directed by Alexandre Aja, which tells the story of delusions of the central character, Marie, as she believes her friend Alex has been kidnapped, and her family murdered. She tries to protect and save Alex, however it is later revealed that Marie is the killer, having delusions that she was the saviour, as she is in love with Alex. I am interested in this complete separation from mind and body, believing actions you did were not you’re own, and believing that you are always the ‘good’ person in every situation. This distinct separation between perceived self and real self is something I’m very keen to explore in my further work.