Just watched House of Voices (or Saint Ange) and I've come to the conclusion that Pascal Laugier may well be my favourite contemporary director after only two films. As mentioned previously I was blown away by Martyrs and feel pretty similarly about House of Voices. The films are actually quite similar too, to be honest, but that didn't bother me too much. There are two things Laugier does in both which I think is amazing and not done enough (because from my experience when you try to do it someone shoots you down and says 'no, that's way too out there, just play it safe' - there are clearly advantages to directing your own scripts. Sorry, got onto a side rant there).
First, he always manages to surprise me. There's a whole sequence at the end of House of Voices where I had no idea where the film was going or what was going to happen next. I find that experience awesome and exhilarating, especially in a horror film. And it sadly doesn't happen enough these days.
Second, he clearly believes that just because you're making a horror film doesn't mean you can't make a film that's thought-provoking and interesting. Neither film provides a neat little wrapped up conclusion - they are intended to make you join up the dots with full knowledge that everyone will come out with a slightly different idea of what the film is about. This again is not done enough and too often frowned upon. If I may go off on another mini-rant, I've always believed that genre films are to be taken seriously and that there's meaning in the trashiest horror film whether the filmmakers wanted it there or not. It's all art at the end of the day, although I do prefer it when filmmakers accept that, and prefer it even more when they embrace it as Laugier clearly does.
There are a lot of other things to enjoy in Laugier's films - they look amazing, the performances are good, he creates a brilliantly creepy atmosphere - but those two are the things I appreciate most.
Not so long ago he was attached to direct the Hellraiser remake. If there was anyone I'd be happy to see remaking one of my favourite horror films...ah well, it was not to be in the end.
Anyway, here's the trailer for House of Voices. If you're sick of all horror films being made from the same template then I recommend you check it out:
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