Left Bank

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Venue: Edinburgh Film Festival.

EDINBURGH -- A sports star takes an ill-advised course in “Left Bank” (“Linkeroever”), a nicely-shot spine-tingler undermined by script problems. While decidedly overlong and overambitious, the picture is sufficiently distinctive to become a popular choice for festivals seeking off-beat midnight fare and should do business in DVD.

Set in the upscale riverside area of modern-day Antwerp, the story concerns twentyish track star Marie (Eline Kuppens). A nasty leg injury allows her time to explore other activities, such as romance with charismatic bad-boy Bobby (Matthias Schoenarts). She very quickly moves into his well-appointed high-rise condo. After learning that the apartment’s previous tenant mysteriously disappeared, Marie does enough snooping to discover long-hidden secrets and the nightmarish consequences.

Flemish-language “Left Bank” is the latest addition to the not-exactly-overflowing ranks of Belgian horror-movies. Feature-debutant director/co-writer Pieter Van Hees owes much more of a debt to British and American forerunners from the ‘60s and ‘70s as he stirs together aspects of “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Quatermass and the Pit,” “The Wicker Man” and “Satan’s Skin” (plus elements of recent J-horrors like “Dark Water”) into what becomes a distinctly heady brew.

Overloaded with disturbing hallucinations and disorienting, wannabe-Lynchian dream-sequences, “Left Bank” gradually spirals from intriguing chilliness to mood-killing, murkily-plotted silliness. The last scene is a real head-scratcher. But it always looks terrific, as cinematographer Nicolas Karakstanis imaginatively explores the possibilities of widescreen, high-def digital-video.
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