‘Trouble Every Day’ – Claire Denis’s take on bloodlust on Criterion Channel and Shudder

Béatrice Dalle in Claire Denis' 'Trouble Every Day'

Trouble Every Day (2001), Claire Denis’ wigged-out take on the vampire film, is one of the strangest variations on the genre, which has a history of unusual takes.

Béatrice Dalle (Betty Blue) stars as a madwoman who is locked in the basement of a Paris home by a scientist (Alex Descas) because of her propensity to literally devour her lovers. That doesn’t stop her from luring victims to her basement prison with the enticement of sex. Vincent Gallo co-stars as an American afflicted with the same disease who comes to Paris in search of the doctor, hoping to curb his tendencies before he attacks his newlywed wife (Tricia Vassey).

It’s a cannibal film, but in the Cronenberg sense—horror as biology and disease and psychological transformation—with Denis’s weird mix of too much intimacy and observational distance. The tangle of sex and death is obvious but no less visceral: Dahl giggles and coos and barks in pleasure as caressing and kissing becomes orgiastic biting, sex as a feral drive that ends with her eating her lover for dinner. She’s never sadistic; it’s more like playing with her food.

The film was lambasted on its original release for its excesses—it is filled with flesh and blood and hunger played as sexual appetite—but it is gorgeous and raw and primal, a mix of horror and erotica. This has its champions but for the most part it was too arty and enigmatic for horror fans and too violent for foreign movie fans. Maybe times have caught with it now: Trouble Every Day found new champions on a theatrical revival and a disc release earlier this decade.

Not rated, features exolicit violence and nudity

Streams for a limited time on Criterion Channel and on Shudder and streams free for a limited time on Hoopla, which is available through most public and college library systems.

Also on DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay, Vudu and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
Trouble Every Day [DVD]

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Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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