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Tenement, The

An old man who has once inhabited Fairview Falls returns to the town to visit his old residence. He meets with the new owner outside of the building. They discuss the structureís history. They remember four events during which madness and misfortune struck the previous inhabitants.

Ethan, a twenty-something horror film buff must constantly endure his suffering mother complain and cry from her bed. He obeys to her every desires yet he is not wholehearted.

As a clerk at a florist, he receives an order for a dozen black roses for a man named Korman. Ethan loves Kormanís horror movies. Nervous of finally meeting one of his idols, he goes out and delivers the flowers and even obtains an audition. However, things donít go well and Ethan makes a fool of himself. Everyone in the studio laughs at him. This is the straw that broke the camelís back; itís Ethanís turn to judge.

It is to the sound of the music emitted by her old radio that Sarah spends most of her time dancing with an imaginary partner. She is mute and differs from your typical teenager. Her neighbour Henri loves the way she dances. He sees her waltz through her bedroom window.

One day, when Sarahís parents leave her alone, Henri pays her a visit. He insists upon entering, touching her and kissing her. Her reticence doesnít slow down the intruder. When he is a bit too close, she bites his lip. Mad with anger, he beats Sarah up and rapes her. It is at this moment that something abnormal happens. Henri is plunged into a dark and empty world: a world that judges him for his egocentric behaviour.

Jimmy, suffering from paranoia, takes matters into his own hands and decides to take part in a mutual aid group. He manages to share his secrets in spite of the groupís somewhat upsetting attitude. It is night when the heads back home and is attacked by what he believes to be a wolf.

Subsequently, he feels weak and drools. When his doctor questions him, he openly admits believing he is transforming into a werewolf. The specialist prescribes sleeping pills and psychiatric help.

Jimmy wakes up after a very long night and is famished. The first thing he can get his hands on is a bowl of raw meat, which he devours. Still, his hunger has not end and animal flesh does not suffice.

A girl catches a taxi ride but, once itís too late, she realizes that no taximeter is present. She is hit in the face by the driver. When she awakens, she is tied up and her face is covered with a plastic film. After mentally torturing her, the driver finishes her off by strangulation.

The murderer, seeking a new victim, finds another girl. He drives her to her destination, a home outside the city. Once the girl is inside the house, the driver sharpens his knife and heads out to join her. However, some girls are harder to kill than others.





The Tenement, created by Light and Dark productions and distributed by Brain Damage Films, is a collection of four murder stories similar to Creepshow Typically, these short stories end in ironic, surprising or macabre ways. What is innovative in this film is that it is a prequel to Fear of the Dark. Furthermore, the scenario for both productions predicted these common links. A second addition is planned, Sins of the Father, which should conclude the trilogy.

I do not hold in the highest regard short films. They often have nothing to tell or condense the elements that require more exploration. Furthermore, they are too short to be considered as an activity on the same level as a full-length feature. The Tenement opts for the perfect solution: a way to offer diversity and uniformity for an appropriate length.

The story that introduces and concludes the film lets us believe that everything will take place between the four walls of an apartment building. However, this is not the case and it was, for me, a quick deception. Thankfully, the good vibrations emanating from the first tale seized my attention and held my interest to the end.

The first half of this story is reminiscent of Psycho. First of all, there is the timid young man. Second, there is the sick mother that the camera hesitates in presenting. Their relation is practically the same as Batesí. This was too obvious for my liking.

I appreciated the two scenes where Ethan faces madness, dominated by his contradictory feelings. The actorís arenít great but they have their good moments. I was happily surprised by the distribution of the story. It takes its time to set in and to familiarize us with the characters and their situation. Furthermore, Korman, the low-budget film director, is simply inhumane. I would have been pleased by a more nuanced villain.

The violence is crude but the mock-ups arenít very realistic. This contrasts with the agile psychological direction that was initially taken.

I can only shiver at the sight of a mute girl that does nothing but waltz absentmindedly. The most amusing is that she isnít sicker than her neighbour who simply wants to be friends. I would not claim that this rape story is shocking. We see the bare minimum to comprehend the gravity of the situation and are quickly diverted to the consequences.

This acting team is the best among the four stories. I appreciated the scene where the neighbour ends up in a dark room, gripped by condemning hands. The scene where the rapist washes Sarahís hair in the bath was, however, totally useless.

The concept behind this story is the most interesting. Certainly, the main actor doesnít succeed in making me believe that he is transforming into a werewolf but he is still amusing to watch.

An American Werewolf in London is an obvious source of inspiration. Listening to a song resembling Blue Moon by Bobby Vinton, Jimmy looks in the mirror and truly believes he sees himself metamorphosing. It made me nostalgic!

The sound isnít always good. The echo is most problematic and the dialogue is sometimes poor.

Thankfully, dark humour does its job here. When Jimmy isnít busy grimacing in front of the mirror, he stubbornly tries to explain his predicament to doctors. What he doesnít know is that he is the only one that can see it. I loved Jimmyís down to earth reaction when he realizes he had just killed for the first time. Reality sometimes wins over fantasy in horror films and this sketch proves it.

The locations in which the development takes place make it fun to watch: a taxi, a high-voltage electric room and a stable. However, its main problem is that it is a bit monotonous. The characters die and we donít feel a thing. It is the simple story of a serial killer that, even though he has the perfect trick to capture victims, doesnít deliver the goods when the murders start: he has no style.

The ending is not as generic as the rest of the story but it doesnít create the desired effect, an effect that must have seemed brilliant on paper.

Final Thoughts

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Memorables aspects
- Korman has his cranium crushed in by repeated shovel blows.
- Jimmy biting his friend in the neck even though he only wanted a bit of affection.

Memorables characters

Released in: 2003

Movie type: Horror - Slasher - Gore - Thriller - Humor - Diseases - Nudity

Films in similar category:
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II
Hide And Go Shriek
American Nightmare
Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers
Red Dragon

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( 2004-06-01 )  

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