French-Canadian horror 7 Days is torture porn at its most graphic, yet is stunningly well shot. With, for once, a decent story that almost justifies the violence, 7 Days demonstrates some pretty intelligent filmmaking.
When his eight year old daughter is brutally raped and murdered while out delivering invitations to her birthday party, Dr Bruno Hamel goes to great lengths to kidnap her murderer from prison and torture him to make him pay.
7 Days looks and feels like a low budget independent drama with a very bleak and realistic atmosphere which works well with the theme. We are immediately thrown into the thick of the story, with just a few minutes at the beginning to introduce us to the happy family and their sweet, innocent eight year old before she’s brutally murdered. While it’s great to be thrown in at the deep end straight away, it does occasionally make it difficult to relate to the characters and empathise with their situation, however in the case of 7 Days, a great performance from leading actor Claude Legault is enough, and his grief and torment is very moving.
There is little, if not no music at all and Legault barely speaks through most of the film so the pensive, tense atmosphere makes the intricate and brutal torture all the more intense. There’s a striking similarity to films such as Winter’s Bone in terms of the pensive, tense and bleak atmosphere and little sound. We’re presented with a character who hardly speaks and yet we completely relate to and empathise with him, and that success is almost solely down to Legault‘s brilliant performance.
A word of warning though, 7 Days is rather exploitative. The victim, played by a very brave Martin Dubreuil, is stark naked throughout the entire runtime while he is brutally beaten and even operated on in a somewhat disgusting and mind boggling operation. The level of discomfort that this aspect of the film induces is almost vital to its impact, but for those easily offended or squeamish it might be one to avoid.
The murder of the little girl is dealt with tastefully and is left to the audiences imagination, which is something that a lot of films unfortunately do not do, and although it’s largely exploitative and very brutal it is cleverly done and the story justifies the violence making it more than just mindless torture porn. One of the better torture-type films I’ve seen recently, 7 Days is probably more suited to fans of drama because in terms of horror it’s slightly lacking.