Left Bank (2008) | This Belgian occult horror is a skilful exercise in Wicker Man-styled atmospherics

Left Bank (2008)

Being a big fan of Belgian horror, it was with great interest that I sought out director Pieter Van Hees’ 2008 chiller Left Bank (aka Linkeroever) – a bizarre blend of urban drama, erotic thriller and occult mystery set in Antwerp’s outskirts.

Left Bank (2008)

The story centres on Marie (Eline Kuppens), a young athlete who moves into an apartment complex with her new lover, Bob (Mattheas Schoenarts), in order to recuperate from a sporting injury. As she settles into the foreboding tower block that’s populated by shadowy neighbours, Marie discovers the previous tenant, a woman called Hella, disappeared mysteriously. With time on her hands, and with the help of Hella’s boyfriend Dirk, Marie starts investigating. But she soon opens up a can of worms.

Left Bank (2008)

The Brutalist building Marie resides is built on a former dumping ground for the city’s poor and, according to legend, is a gateway to another dimension. It also transpires that Bob is dean of a guild of archers whose feast day is the 1st of November. In folklore, this was the pagan harvest festival of Samhain, a time when the guild made human sacrifices every seven years to ensure fertility. As the day draws nearer, it gradually dawns on Marie that she is to be the next intended sacrifice…

Left Bank (2008)

This urban Euro-horror tries to recreate the chills that were so brilliantly achieved in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant, and in Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man; as well as the weirdness that made Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom a masterpiece of the genre. Technically the film is well crafted, with creative camerawork, evocative photography that perfectly captures the urban decay of this part of northern Europe (it was around the real-life Chicagoblok) and sombre scoring. There are moments of pure scariness, like the strange physical manifestations that Marie suffers in the course of her journey – including icky secretions and thick hairs growing out of non-healing wounds. And the performances are effective: Kuppens makes for a believable heroine, while Schoenarts as Bob is just right as the macho bad boy.

Left Bank (2008)

Anyone familiar with ending of The Wicker Man won’t be surprised by where this Flemish variation is headed, but the final shot leaves you with more questions, than answers: What were the results of Marie’s blood test? Is Bob immortal? Is that a demon in the pit? Who was Hella? While no masterpiece, and begs a clearer ending, Left Bank is a skilful exercise in atmospherics.



About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on January 1, 2016, in Horror, Might See, Might-See and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: