Rutabaga Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by TMAA
Written and directed by Julien Botzanowski
2018, 70 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Released on 20th August 2019
Julien Botzanowski as Adrien
Capucine Lamarque as Hélène
Serge Barbagallo as Monsieur Pierre
Anouchka Csernakova as Mademoiselle Agathe
Journalist Adrien gets more than he ever bargained for when he is assigned to cover the opening of a new guest house in town. Ten minutes into a seventy-minute movie, it doesn't take him long at all to realise that something is amiss. Together with maid and roommate Hélène, Adrien sets about uncovering the mystery of the... kind of creepy guest house. Maybe, somewhere along the way, he'll be able to tell us exactly what a 'rutabaga' is. Wait, what? It's a turnip, you say?
This bare bones supernatural thriller is light on cast, budget and, apparently, pages of its screenplay. Horror has a grand tradition of making a lot from very little though, and writer, director and star Julien Botzanowski doesn't need much more than that – Rutabaga's cinematographer and musician notwithstanding.
The budget is evidently low, but Botzanowski uses his limitations to accentuate the claustrophobic little house and its surroundings. Dutch angles and creepy close-ups inside, unsettling wide shots outside. The cinematography by Alexandre Laugier is surprisingly good for a film of this budget and scale, as is the overbearing, oppressive score by Scott Von Teufel.
At seventy minutes, the film makes for quick and easy enough viewing, but is still not without its filler. The pacing is painfully slow at times, slowly eking out what little story it has in drips and drops. Aside from atmospherics and the charming friendship between Adrien and Hélène, Rutabaga doesn't have a great deal to offer. Technically, it's impressive, but will perhaps be too slow and uneventful for the wider audience.
In Rutabaga, Botzanowski crafts an intricate, if slightly slight horror film from not a lot at all. It looks and sounds fantastic, and is well acted by Botzanowski, Capucine Lamarque and the other performers. It might only be seventy minutes long but, for better or worse, it feels longer than that; substantial and not, at the same time. Its storytelling may leave something to be desired, but from a technical standpoint, it's an admirable achievement. Not so much gilding the lily as, well, a turnip
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