7/10 Stars. Review by S.E. (on IMDB.com)
Recommended for (1) mature audiences who (2) enjoy literary, paced horror (with healthy doses of disturbing erotica): This graphic tale aims to disturb in elegant fashion. Note firstly that the script is an adaption of a classic fairy tale La Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard, 1697) by Charles Perrault. Most folks in 2014 in the USA will not recognize his name, but he authored many famous tales translated to the movie screen (i.e.,Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Puss in Boots, and The Sleeping Beauty). Here, Bluebeard tells the story of a wealthy aristocrat who kills his many fiancees.
Beautiful Serial Killing: Bluebeard appropriately plays like the Sweeney Todd play. Viewers watch as victim after victim are taken to Barbazul’s remote plantation to suffer an unsuspecting death. The pacing is measured; the music and strange situations carry the film. The beautiful remote setting and filming was reminiscent of the cinematography of the Coen Brother’s Fargo (1996) and Stanley Kubrick’s rendition of Stephen King’s The Shining (1980). About ~10 minutes could have been shaved off the first third without lessening anything, so impatient viewers may lose interest.
The acting, writing, casting, and filming were all well done. The music score did overwhelm voices at times (at least on the version I streamed); however, despite the writing being good enough to listen to, the occasional dimmed conversation didn't detract from the film. For one, I was reading the subtitles anyway. Also, the acting is clear enough that this could have been presented as a silent movie (keeping the wondrous soundtrack of course).
Each victim arguable has more character depth than the titular Barbazul. They all have some artistic bent (poor model, mature model, singer, writer, museum goer), which reinforces the artistic nature of the film. Each death is intimately, and vividly, captured at length. Despite the cruel nature of the deaths, and the copious amounts of exposed flesh, the “blood and gore” was kept at minimal levels; in short, the murders are done tastefully. The beauty of each woman is torturously lost as viewers become voyeurs to fatal sex. Bizarre, really.
Excerpt: Creating horror with beauty is a tough task, yet screen writer Amy Hesketh (also Director and actress for Jane) seems to reveal the movie’s core theme explicitly:
Barbazul: So, do you enjoy modelling?
Annabelle: I am enjoying the fact that I am still beautiful. I love taking photos, looking at my photos. It’s something that will last forever. It’s artistic as well.Using your body, knowing how to move, knowing yourself. To understand your own beauty is…not that easy…
Art Horror: The film crew at Pachamama Films have made a series of complex horror films, each being unapologetic about graphically killing naked women. Yet they aim to keep rooted in history or classic literary works, and they take their craft seriously. Somehow they present loads of erotic horror in a beautiful way; that is a stunning balancing act. I look forward to their film currently in production called "Olalla," which is based off of Robert Louis Stevenson’s story (Treasure Island, and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.) That tale originally featured an English soldier recovering from battle wounds when he falls in love with a woman who belongs to a mysterious vampiric family. Can’t wait to see the Pachamama adaptation of Olalla.
Availability (2014, US): DVD’s in the US run ~$35; buying a streamable version from Amazon is ~$20.