Sundance ’10 REVIEW: A Third Look at ’7 Days’ Completes Trifecta

We’ve already posted two reviews here for Daniel Grou’s (Podz) French-Canadian thriller 7 Days, which follows a doctor who seeks revenge by kidnapping, torturing and killing the man who murdered his young daughter. Both Ryan and Mr. Disgusting’s thoughts were extremely positive, but if you need a third opinion you’ll find Roxanne’s thoughts beyond the break. The best part? You can watch this sucker by boosting up OnDemand and then chime in with your thoughts below.
Ice-covered roads and fishtailing semis made for a tense, white-knuckled commute from Park City to SLC on Saturday night through yet another Utah snow storm. The anxiety-inducing hour and a half trek through the mountain pass paled in comparison, however, to the tension fest that is Director Daniel Grou (or Podz, if you prefer)’s 7 DAYS. Rarely does a film have the ability to capture so strongly both the physical and psychological aspects of horror. Exploring the concepts of vengeance and retribution, Grou expertly weaves through the moral high and low grounds of his characters.

In the beginning the audience is obviously on the side of Doctor Bruno Hamel: the avenging father who carefully arranges to brutally torture his daughter’s rapist and murderer over the course of seven days and kill him on her birthday. Summaries of the film make mention of the ambiguity of our protagonist-at some point the savagery of what Dr. Hamel does to his daughter’s killer becomes so overwhelming that you begin to wonder whether you’re supposed to be rooting for him or not. Gasps rippled through the theater at the very first act of torture, so viciously was it executed.

Kudos to the superb editing of the film-knowing just the right moment to cut to the secondary storyline of Detective Mercure trying to track Hamel down. As much as the ‘torture porn’ term has been thrown around, this isn’t gratuitous violence we’re seeing. Despite how disturbingly gruesome and truly nausea-inducing as the physical torture scenes are, each scene between Hamel and his daughter’s killer is expertly crafted. Grou raises the physical and psychological tension for both the torture victim and the audience to it’s absolute limit before pulling back. A palpable sigh of relief could be heard each time we left the room where Hamel keeps his victim (and victim he’ll become in your mind more so than murderer, even when describing what he did to Hamel’s daughter). Watching Hamel unravel over the course of the week is almost as painful to watch.

Ultimately the film is more about guilt and grief than revenge. The crux of the film can be summed up in two lines of dialogue between the detective and one of his lieutenants, to the effect of ‘should we really be trying this hard to save a murderer? ‘ To which he responds, ‘it’s not the murderer I’m trying to save.’ Because we never do stop rooting for Hamel, even when he’s enjoying the screams of his captive. This one will stick with you long after the final frame.

Rating: 4/5 Skulls