A filmic object as meta as it is improbable, “Arthur Malédiction” is a meditation by its producer and screenwriter dressed up as an indecent parody of a horror film.
“Like what, a film can do damage.” Spoken by a strange country cop, one of the last lines ofCurse Arthur resonates like the moral of a fable by La Fontaine: as unexpected in its formulation as it is obvious in its place within the story.
Twenty hours before it is pronounced, it is at the beginning of the first Arthur and the Invisibles we are witnessing, until a tracking shot and a reverse shot reveal the true nature of the film we are about to see. Arthur and the Invisibles, whose first seconds were only a distant memory for us, is in fact the film that little Alex, fan of the franchise, watches with his friends for his birthday pajama party. After a ten-year ellipse, the scene recurs identically, on Alex’s majority day, as if Luc Besson’s film had crossed the years to become one of those nostalgic objects that we look at with friends while eating a pizza.
Even if Barthélémy Grossmann is the director and Besson “only” the screenwriter and producer, it is difficult not to quickly see in Curse Arthur a dialogue of the latter with himself, a meditation on what his career, his empire and his audience were like when the first arthur came out in 2006 and what remains of these three entities today. It is obvious that the Arthur and the Invisibles which begins on 18-year-old Alex’s television, is a phantasmagoric and meta look by Luc Besson on his own feature film. An admission of failure not on what the film is, but on what he would have liked it to become: a cult gesture and founder of the contemporary blockbuster made in France instead of being the symbolic beginning of the slow descent to the underworld of Europacorp, the fault of two useless sequels with mediocre figures.
When everything changes
If it had lasted only the time of its twelve introductory minutes, or had remained only a humorous idea of cross-over with the Marvel series What if?, Arthur Curse would be an acceptable, even touching gesture. But Barthélémy Grossmann does indeed make a horror film on the unlikely premise of a gang of teenagers who have gone urbex in the house where the film was shot. Arthur and the Invisibles, who are attacked by several entities directly inspired by the antagonists of the film. Very quickly comes to the mind of the spectator the existential and salutary question of the degree to which they must apprehend the film, so much does it look like a parody of series Z with an improbable pitch, without however assuming it completely.
Absolutely nothing works in Curse Arthur, except for the laughter that his dwarf flights arouse. For example, a character goes to urinate in the middle of a wheat field in the middle of the night and comes across the telephone of his missing friend. “Luckily I pissed on it and it lit up, otherwise we never would have found it!he said proudly, phone in hand. A situation in the middle of what Besson proposes here in terms of horror writing, between the unexpected appearance of a crucifix and that of a fallen tree trunk on the only car whose characters have the key. All in a forest haunted by the absence of a 4G network.
Meditative pilgrimage? Stunning pastiche? Very very bad horror movie? Maybe all at once. Even if it looks like a desperate headlong rush that will probably be a milestone, Curse Arthur has at least for him a certain audacity, and can, in spite of any form of good taste, call himself without trembling from the chin unheard of.
Curse Arthur by Barthélémy Grossmann, in theaters.
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“Arthur Curse”: the meta fiasco of Luc Besson – Les Inrocks
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