Ok, ok, ok. I should have known better, but I couldn’t help myself.
There are two reasons why I decided to watch this movie, despite glancing over some negative reviews. 1) Fabrice Du Welz. I loved his freshman feature effort Calvaire. It was crazy and twisted in that indie horror sort of way. 2) The premise was unique and engaging: a couple looking for their child after the tsunami in South East Asia.
Well, what lulled me in to watching the movie were warning signs in disguise. Du Welz is probably crazy—crazy in that artsy filmmaker sort of way. I knew Vinyan would be fantastical and perhaps difficult to piece together, but boring and nonsensical is something else altogether. The film’s plot should have had me concerned. Doesn’t sound like a horror film, does it? Well, if they are marketing something off kilter like Vinyan as a horror film, it’s probably because they have no idea what else to call it since it’s so “weird” and may have a scene of “gore” or two.
All horror expectation aside, it’s still not a good film. I can deal with a slow-paced film. In fact, sometimes there is nothing I enjoy more than a slow burn, especially when it’s a horror film. However, Vinyan just sort of drifts, as the characters sluggishly trudge from step to step. Sure there are some gorgeous shots of Thai landscapes and the crazy wife looking at trees, but this isn’t a nature documentary, it’s supposed to be a damn movie! And let’s talk about that crazy wife for a minute…
Here I am, watching Vinyan.
Oh wait, I mean it's Emmanuelle Beart playing Jeanne.
So this woman thinks she sees her son on a videotape of a Burmese village (shot by those fundraising organizations) and somehow persuades her husband to spend their lifesavings to go into war-torn Burma with some mafia druglord type that is obviously ripping them off the entire time. And so you must think it’s pretty clear that it was her son on that tape, right? Well, I’ll let this picture speak for itself:
There's more proof that Sasquatch exists than this kid...
Oh, ok. There really isn’t a possibility that some other kid is wearing a red shirt, right? Yes, I understand that parents with missing children are desperate enough to cling to almost any chance at finding their son or daughter again, but as an audience, it’s more effective if we believe in that possibility as well. It’s hard to jump on board with Vinyan from the beginning, because this woman appears more of a lunatic than a desperate mother and because you know they are not going to find their son. Futility is never a good feeling, especially when it comes ten minutes into the movie. You start asking yourself, “Should I take out the disc now? Or should I give it a chance?”
Damn. I gave it a chance. Wrong choice. Beautiful close-ups of good actors only take you so far. The pointless scenes, the rambling nature of the editing, the lack of backbone on behalf of the characters, and the sheer sense of “blah” that comes from watching Vinyan doesn’t leave you much to go on. There are so many scenes that lack conclusion; it’s as if Du Welz set a goal of not following through on any single thing with this movie. For example, the wife runs off at one point, leaving her husband running after her and calling her name. Cut to: a shot where they are both walking together, as if nothing happened. Ok, so I guess he found her and convinced her stop running in between those scenes. I can read between the lines, but why bother? What was the point of that scene if nothing changes because of it?
He's screwed. Just like you for watching this movie.
And if you’re thinking of just fast-forwarding to the jungle stuff, where the creepy children promised in the trailer start to show up, don’t. I’ve never been lost in a rainy, muddy jungle before, but if I were ever to get lost in such a place, I’m sure it would feel a lot like watching this movie: endless and painful. There are a couple people that die, some sparse moments of gore, a few shots of creepy kids, but if you want bodycount, watch a Friday the 13th film, if you want guts, check out Dead Alive, and if you like scary kids, then go see The Omen. There is no reason to watch Vinyan if you are looking for these things.
And by the way, this really isn't all that creepy.
If you are looking for a film comprised of 96 minutes of people sitting on boats, walking around Thai jungles, staring off into the trees with desperate eyes, and being treated to a big reveal of something you already knew to begin with (the damn wife is crazy), then go ahead and watch Vinyan.
Surprise! She's crazy! Bet you didn't see that one coming...