Watching someone get tortured and executed during a livestream. Some people are willing to pay money to view it as it happens live. Lots of money. Are those watching just as guilty as the executioner? Which side of the screen is morally worse? “Snuff livestreaming” and its aftermath is on the menu in Pascal Plante’s “Les Chambres Rouges” (Red Rooms), which made its North American premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival.
Les Chambres Rouges (Red Rooms)
The trial for “the Demon of Rosemont”, Ludovic Chevalier (Maxwell McCabe-Lokos), is underway in the courts of Montreal, Quebec, for the horrific acts he is being accused of. Chevalier’s crimes involve kidnapping, confinement against one’s will, sexual abuse causing physical harm, murder and dismembering cadavers upon three teenage girls. To add to these atrocities, he livestreamed everything in what is being called “Red Rooms” where shady individuals can pay large amounts of money to be a part of the virtual audience.
Les Chambres Rouges
Two of the victims’ torture/murder clips are used as evidence in court, while the youngest girl’s body was found, yet her video is missing. In the trial’s audience is Kelly-Anne (Juliette Gariépy), who is absolutely obsessed by Chevalier and the case. She befriends Clémentine (Laurie Babin), also attending the trial, claiming that the accused is innocent and is being framed. Is Ludovic Chevalier actually “the Demon of Rosemont”? Why is Kelly-Anne so consumed by him and his crimes? She is about to get more involved in this case than you could ever imagine.
Before its screening, writer/director Pascal Plante, who was at Fantasia with most of his film’s crew, claimed that, as much as he knew how bizarre it sounded, he wished that “this film would haunt us” long after its end credits. He was not wrong.
What begins as a courtroom-based crime/drama story gradually shifts its focus to Kelly-Anne and her obsession with the case, ascending in a nail-biting crescendo to a jaw-dropping climax. Numerous lengthy scenes are filmed in one take, with the camera slowly panning from one angle to the next, engulfing the audience in the raw emotions and discomfort of the context.
Plante succeeds in building interest and tension with captivating speeches within the courtroom, but especially with the focus placed upon his lead character. What is driving her to sleep in dark alleys overnight to ensure that she gets to the courtroom early enough to obtain a seat for the trial? How does she know so much about the macabre videos? Why is she also focusing on one of the victim’s mother? These questions are answered within Plante’s tense finale.
Les Chambres Rouges (Red Rooms) Movie Poster
Despite revealing no visual violence or gore, the film thrives on destroying the viewers’ psyche with gut-wrenching audio and devastating performances from those viewing the tapes. Screams, cries, and fainting are all very effective in playing with your imagination without exposing anything at all. Graphic, visual horror is not the primary emphasis of Plante’s intentions, nor is it lacking to comprehend the gravity of the sordid crimes at hand. To wrap it all up with a grisly bow, a haunting soundtrack, composed by Dominique Plante, adds to the heavy grip that “Les Chambres Rouges” manages to clamp down on the audience.
Les Chambres Rouges
Juliette Gariépy carries this film on her shoulders as she stars in her first lead role of a feature film. While the audience does wonder if Chevalier is the actual culprit of the “Red Room” murders, the way Kelly-Anne leads her life and her passion for “the Demon of Rosemont’s” case is the true underlined mystery.
Part-time model and full-time online poker player, she lives her life in the same stoic, emotionless manner as she plays the card game: everything is calculated and she doesn’t believe in luck. When she meets Clémentine, she allows her to tag along despite her disdain for her, yet gradually grows closer to the very different young woman, revealing a more humane side of her.
Gariépy’s performance is stellar, from her phlegmatic self in the first half of the tale to an increasingly vulnerable state of mind due to her involvement in dark affairs. Hopefully, this wasn’t her last appearance as a lead on the silver screen.
Les Chambres Rouges
From a courtroom drama to a throat-clenching thriller, Pascal Plante’s “Les Chambres Rouges” most definitely deserves all of the hype that it is receiving. Do not expect a visually visceral horror movie; you will be disappointed. Head into this haunting experience with the expectations of a meticulously crafted storyline, impressive movie-making skills, fascinating performances, and a plot that will transport you out of the disturbing, yet safe, context of the courthouse into the very real and dangerous world surrounding its murder case.
You’ll keep changing your mind on who is the true villain in this story, and that’s what makes “Red Rooms” so ensnaring, as it receives a solid 4 out of 5 eyeball rating. “Les Chambres Rouges” will hit theaters in Quebec on August 11th and soon to other markets as it makes it’s festival rounds.
4 eyes out of 5