Speed Review: Fascination (1979) The Reaper Has Nice Breasts September 28, 2022 14:06
For years I've struggled to take in the filmography of French director Jean Rollin, known for his artsy Gothic foray in the French horror genre, only to find myself quickly losing interest. Fascination was my latest venture at reviving that endeavor, though not my first attempt at watching the film, which centers around a thief who double crosses his gang and escapes into the woods and seeks refuge in an elaborate isolated castle. Upon investigation he discovers two lovely young ladies are residing there (Brigitte Lahaie and Franca Mai) and holds them hostage, naively unaware that he is actually the prisoner in the situation.
As the film progresses, Elisabeth (Franca Mai), becomes infatuated with him and insists that he leave before nightfall, warning him of the group of people that will be arriving there for a ceremony. But the lure of the physical beauty of the women, the lingering threat of his gang lurking outside the boundaries of the property, and his curiosity of this elusive ceremony entices him to discover what secrets the castle holds. Will he be able to escape when he realizes his error in heeding the warning, or will curiosity kill the cat burglar?
Fascination, in the vain of every Rollin film I've watched thus far, relies heavily on mystery, sexuality and atmosphere, all aspects most of his films accomplish quite well. The question is whether his very artsy, more visual approach to film-making is a palatable style for you. The story is simplistic, at the heart of it is a group of bored socialites mixed up in satanic cult rituals out of a perverted pleasure, masquerading as an Edwardian era vampire film. Most of Rollin's works are difficult to traverse unless you enjoy this unique style of story telling. But in this case you have the added benefit of the presence of Brigitte Lahaie, supporting your attention with sporadic nudity and the haunting scene of her draped in a black cloak, wielding a scythe.
Overall, out of the handful of Rollin works I've watched thus far, Fascination stands out as the most memorable both in execution, plot and cast. It's an easier film to get through than some of his earlier vampire centric works, which are visually beautiful but lacking the depth of plot to keep most viewers attentive.