08th Mar2021

Frightfest Glasgow 2021: ‘Out of the World’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Kevin Mischel, Aurélia Poirier, Jean-Louis Garçon, Tadrina Hocking | Written and Directed by Mark Fouchard

Written and directed by Mark Fouchard, Out of the World is a stylish French horror that centres on the connection formed between two people who struggle to communicate with the normal world. It’s variously known by its original title, Hors du Monde, and by a slightly tweaked translation, Out of this World.

Kevin Mischel stars as Leo, a gifted musician suffering from a severe past trauma. Unable to work as a composer, he makes a living as a taxi driver, but he struggles with extremely violent impulses and may, in fact, be a killer. However, when he picks up deaf dancer Amélie (Aurélia Poirier), something stirs in Leo, not least because she can sense something in his music that others can’t, and the pair begin a tentative relationship.

The relationship between Leo and Amélie is superbly handled, as the two find a way to communicate through music and dance. It’s unusual to see dance routines in horror movies that aren’t also comedies, so the key sequence takes you by surprise here, as they convey their mutual attraction and frustration in a stunning physical display that’s simultaneously violent and beautiful.

Mischel does an excellent job with a very difficult character, at once pathetic, chilling and sympathetic, at least once you sense his pain underneath – the specific nature of his past trauma is barely alluded to in the film. The violence in the film is extremely strong, so at first you’re unsure exactly how sympathetic you’re meant to find him, though the film gradually reveals that he may not be quite the monster he first appears.

On a similar note, Out of the World constantly strikes an intriguing balance with Leo – in once scene he takes a woman captive and forces her into her home at knife point, but his reasons for doing so are so ridiculously pathetic that they’re almost comical, while also, perversely, illiciting sympathy.

Poirier, for her part, is equally good as Amélie, nailing her individual dance scenes and delivering a convincing portrayal of a deaf person – it’s safe to assume the actress is not really deaf, since she also plays Amélie’s twin sister.

Thematically, the film does a terrific job of conveying the frustration of being unable to fit in with the world, and the sense of relief when you find someone that’s on your wavelength. However, the film refuses to offer any easy answers – after the phenomenal central dance routine you suspect you’re in for a story about redemption and perhaps recovery, but the film wrong-foots those expectations in favour of something much darker and sadder, like a cry for help that goes unheard.

On a final note, it’s worth pointing out an unusual credit, in that the film’s cinematographer, Pascal Boudet, is also its composer. That double duty ensures the camerawork perfectly dovetails with the music in its superb central dance sequence, the undisputed highlight in this challenging and frequently disturbing film.

*** 3/5

Out of the World screened as part of Glasgow Frightfest 2021

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