“As the runtime wears on with barely a hint of complexity, depth or character arc, it begins to feel like nothing more than misogyny”
In one of the most disturbing scenes of Marc Fouchard’s serial killer thriller Out of the World, lone wolf protagonist Leo (Kevin Mischel) asks a woman what he needs to do for his first date with the girl he likes to go well. She tells him to be interested in her. If only this film had taken its own advice, it might have become the edgy musing on trauma, loneliness and creativity that it so clearly desires to be, rather than simply an endless cacophony of empty violence.
Leo is an Uber driver by day, but a composer at heart. Totally isolated from society, he lives in his car, fuelling his musical creations with the adrenaline rush of stabbing random women to death. One day, he gives deaf dancer Amélie (Aurélia Poirier) a ride to her studio, and, feeling an intense connection to her after watching her rehearsing, builds up the courage to ask her out.
There’s a lot to like about Fouchard’s filmmaking flourishes here. There’s boldness in waiting 29 minutes to give the lead character any significant dialogue, using silence and Leo’s composition within the score. In one extended driving scene where Leo encounters a number of very different passengers, the camera slides smoothly between the front seat and the back, cutting effortlessly to a different customer each time. At one point, the audience finds themselves locked in the boot of his car, the stretching darkness and panicked breathing of his victim immersing you in fear. Being deaf, Amélie feels the music rather than hearing it, placing her hand right against the speaker and then throwing her arms around to the vibrations rising through her feet. The choreography is contemporary and emotive, based on feelings more than technique, and Poirier’s movements are beautifully shot.
Mischel and Poirier do very well with what they’re given – he’s got the brooding, almost vampiric psychopath look down, and she radiates a warmth and kindness that nicely counteracts his darkness – but even they can’t save the film from its fundamental flaws.
Technical achievements aside, Out of the World has major problems with its plot and attempts to justify Leo’s behaviour. It designates one extremely short scene for exploring his stereotypically traumatic past, choosing instead to focus intensely on his long, moody stares, floppy hair and piercing blue eyes. As woman after woman is subjected to his animalistic attacks, the music pours out of him, bloody fingers miming hitting piano keys in the air.
This kind of killer is a tired cliché, and as the runtime wears on with barely a hint of complexity, depth or character arc, Out of the World begins to feel like nothing more than misogyny. In the third act, there is a single line that seemingly aims for subversion, but multiple women having to die to further Leo’s quest for creative fulfilment is simply too high a price.
Director: Marc Fouchard
Cast: Kevin Mischel, Aurélia Poirier
Header image courtesy of Dacor Film / Glasgow Film Festival