Trouble Every Day (2001), Claire Denis’ wigged-out take on the vampire film, is one of the strangest variations on the vampire movie, itself a genre with 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. 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.
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). 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. Now it’s on Amazon Prime.