BEYOND THE WALLS (AU-DELÀ DES MURS)

PrintE-mail Written by Jonathan Anderson

One glorious thing about films festivals is you’ll often pick something at random that you might never normally get to watch, and get blown away by it.  Step forward BEYOND THE WALLS, a mini-series not a film, but coming in at around the same length.

In modern-day (2015) France, speech therapist Lisa (Baetens) is living a lonely life, purposefully avoiding social interaction and relationships although you don’t really know why. One day, she randomly inherits an old house across the road from her apartment. She has never met the deceased owner, who laid dead in his armchair undiscovered for 30 years.

She moves in, instantly intrigued by the layers of Rorschach painting wallpaper. She starts to hear noises and cries from behind the wall and smashes through the bricks to investigate. There she finds a door, which leads her into another house, or rather another world – a supernatural Narnia where she is confronted by a strange man with a boar’s head.  She runs away, meeting Julien (Deblock) who rescues her.

Lisa is unable to find her way back out. The house, which has hundreds of rooms and no windows, constantly changes, and Julien explains he’s been in there for three to four years. Only Julien entered the house from another era, and time works differently here.

Through Julien we learn about the house, including ‘The Others’ – a group of men who have ‘accepted’ the house and seem to do its evil bidding. It’s fitting they’re called that, as the ghostly atmosphere of every scene reminds you of the namesake film, as well as Coraline and Silent Hill – all of which are good things. Lisa joins Julien as they continue to find a way out of the house – through the mysterious ‘red door’, a clue left to Lisa by the owner of the house she inherited.

There are recurring themes of the human psyche, dead ravens and burnt books, and even religious undertones and the afterlife and how we deal with it.

Beyond the Walls absolutely mesmerises you as you journey through this parallel world, learning about the house as Lisa does, fully immersed in it and feeling a genuine sense of dread that something bad could happen at any minute. The cinematography is incredible, despite the fact the sets seem relatively simple and not a lot happens in several scenes. Its success is how it completely captures the imagination, taking you back to a time when, as a child, you read that book or watched that film that first truly scared and engaged you.

Dream-like, imaginative, mesmerising and full of menace and wonder – Beyond the Walls is yet another diamond in the current ‘golden age of TV’ and deserves just as much attention as anything on Netflix, Now or Amazon. Thankfully, it’s been added to new streaming service Shudder so should be available more widely soon.

BEYOND THE WALLS / DIRECTOR: HERVE HADMAR / SCREENPLAY: HERVE HADMAR, MARC HERPOUX, SYLVIE CHANTEUX / STARRING: VEERLE BAETENS, FRANCOIS DEBLOCK, LILA-ROSE GILBERTI, GERALDINE CHAPLIN 
 


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