This Belgian bunny boiler opens with successful author Marcel Bellmer (Man Bites Dog’s Benoît Poelvoorde; Rémy Belvaux, 1993) buying a beautiful dog for his daughter (Janaina Halloy) and moving into his wife’s (Mélanie Doutey) lavish family home. A mysterious stranger (Alba Gaïa Bellugi) arrives and quickly ingratiates herself into the wealthy household.
Inexorable is a voyeuristic thriller in the vein of Hitchcock and Argento, complete with Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958) zooms and close-ups of eyes through keyholes. Like an inverse Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940) it sees the new arrival manipulate the family to get to Marcel, who keeps his secrets locked in his desk drawer. It is not clear why he insists on holding on to incriminating evidence, or why they trust this random newcomer with their young daughter, but director Fabrice du Welz is more interested in appearance than coherence.
The film looks sublime, all silhouettes and cigarettes, dark and bitter as Belgian chocolate; enjoyable in a way that is probably bad for you. The audience is seduced by Manuel Dacosse’s captivating cinematography that bathes the attractive stars and settings in radiant reds and stunning sunlight. Inexorable proves something of a tease however, promising a mystery that never really materialises and falling back on the crazy chick cliché.
More bitch movie than dog movie, it is content to replay rather than subvert the tropes of erotic thrillers like Basic Instinct (Paul Verhoeven, 1992) and Fatal Attraction (Adrian Lyne, 1987), depictions of women and mental illness that would be consigned to history were it not for the obsessive behaviour of certain male filmmakers.
Although reductive and ridiculous, one cannot fault the finesse. The performances transcend the underdeveloped characters and there is plenty of fun to be had watching these four people (and one dog) boiling over in a Gothic country pile. Some strong gore and a showstopping party performance make the piece more memorable than other recent stalker flicks, such as Greta (Neil Jordan, 2018) and The Gift (Joel Edgerton, 2015), but its unashamed adherence to generic convention means Inexorable is not so much predictable as inevitable.
Inexorable has just premiered at the BFI London Film Festival.