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by Jay Seaver

"Well, of course disco is going to drive people to kill"
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2013 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: What is there to say about "Discopath" that matters to anybody outside its relatively narrow target audience? It's a slasher movie with a simple but absurd concept and some impressive effects work to show the mayhem, and both quite unabashedly French-Canadian and period-fetishist on top of that. If you've been looking for a movie where disco makes someone kill with authentic grindhouse feel, this is for you; if you're not, well, writer/director Renaud Gauthier was.

Things actually start out in 1976 New York, where Duane Lewis (Jeremie Earp-Lavergne) works at a diner but really seems to stress out when certain music comes on the radio. He loses his job, but meets a girl, though heading to the disco for a first date turns out to be a really bad idea. Not seeming to remember what happened, he flees to Montreal, and four years later he's working at Collëge Sainte-Lucie, a Catholic girls' school, under the name Martin. He's clever enough to have built something akin to noise-cancelling headphones, but when a couple students who have stayed behind put something on the record player... Well, soon one teacher has gone missing, her good-girl friend and co-worker Mireille Gervais (Sandrine Bisson) is searching for her, and Manhattan detective Jack Stephens (Ivan Freud) thinks there's something very familiar about the case when he reads about it in the papers, though his Montreal counterpart Inspector Sirois (François Aubin) finds the American interloper a pest.

If nothing else, Discopath is a note-perfect recreation of the grindhouse movies of the time in which it's set: Dirty-looking, luridly violent, and not blessed with the greatest acting. It's actually got some good music on the soundtrack (for certain 1970s-centric values of "good"), although it repeats the few songs it was able to license a lot. The result is so close to the "real thing" that there's not much point in trying to work out whether this is affectionate recreation, the sort of parody that works by pushing everything just a little bit further, or a case of similar resources bringing similar results. And it doesn't really matter; the result has all the blood, wooden performances, and the like needed to fill half of a double feature.

That makes the movie kind of fun, although it's kind of rough in some areas. Jeremie Earp-Lavergne, for instance, doesn't make for the most compelling villain. He's not helped by a script that can't seem to decide whether Duane/Martin commits his murders in a sort of fugue state or if he's a fully cognizant maniac, but the character's personality changes from scene to scene and Earp-Levergne isn't quite able to tie them together. On the other hand, Ivan Freud and François Aubin make woodenness work; that the New York cop doesn't seem nearly as phased as he should be and the Montreal one seems kind of annoyed feels like a joke that the movie is in on. Sandrine Bisson is at least an amiable heroine.

And if the audience is coming for the gore, that's pretty good. Duane's first kill, in fact, is kind of brilliant, although it's possible to overlook that amid the film's needlessly complex, flashback-oriented structure. Gauthier, make-up artist Remy Couture, and company have sick imaginations and the skills to create some nasty corpses (and pieces thereof), resulting in a lot of musically-themed death. It's the sort of thing that looks like it comes from a low-budget movie rather than being disturbingly realistic, but that's what you want here.

Which is fitting; Gauthier is all about giving himself and the audience he's built up through his seventies-spoofing "Inspector Bronco" shorts what they want. If you're in the audience for a mashup between that time's disco and grindhouse cultures, this may very well be the movie for you.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=25413&reviewer=371
originally posted: 09/12/13 19:58:15
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