WRETCHED REVIEWS: STRANDED
Starring Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Thierry Frémont, Saïd Taghmaoui
Written and directed by Hugues Martin & Sandra Martin
Politics meet horror in the French film Stranded (a.k.a. Djinns”, the debut feature from married filmmakers Hugues and Sandra Martin.
Set during France’s war with Algeria in 1960, Stranded stars Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet as Michel, a filmmaker accompanying a troupe of French soldiers on a rescue mission in the Saharan desert. They’ve been tasked with finding a downed French airplane, rescuing survivors and retrieving a briefcase whose contents are unknown until the film’s end. But they are attacked by “fedayee,” Algerian nationals, and take shelter in a nearby village where it soon becomes apparent that it’s not just the Algerians they need to fear: they are also being stalked by ghost-like creatures the locals refer to as djinns.
The Martins have made a compelling film with “Stranded.” Not only are the spectral djinns rendered in such a way as to make them absolutely terrifying on their own, amazing for a primarily CGI effect, but the Algerian setting serves as a potent metaphor for the current war on terror and Western views of the Arab world. We also get to see both sides of the conflict as we spend nearly half our time with the Algerian soldiers, led by Aroui, played by amazing French-Moroccan actor Saïd Taghmaoui (The Good Thief)
Indeed, the Martins’ cast is uniformly solid, especially Thierry Frémont as the platoon leader Vacard and Cyril Raffaeli, whom Western audiences may recognize from the French action film District B13, as tortured sniper Louvier.
The film’s political angle, set as it is during the Algerian war, adds a thematic layer of intrigue to what is already a provocative and unsettling horror film. Très bien, indeed.