Kicking off with an orchestra of cicadas, chirping birds, and the sound of rocks crunching under worn-out trainers, Fauve sets itself up as an ode to the rural and nostalgic. Two troublemaker preteen boys Benjamin (Alexandre Perreault) and Tyler (Félix Grenier), are roaming around an abandoned railway track; locking each other in deserted train carriages, mocking each other’s families, throwing rocks – the usual antics bored kids get up to in their summer holidays. The whole situation seems harmless and even familiar to anyone who’s grown up bored in the countryside. Until Benjamin and Tyler wander into a surface mine, where Benjamin gets stuck in a sort of cement-quicksand. Then, the pastoral tale of nostalgia turns into a disturbing and agonising race against the clock as Tyler tries to save his best friend’s life.
Here, director Jérémy Comte jumps from the natural and the safe to the man-made and the estranged. Lush-green woods are replaced by endless rolling hills of bleached grey, which Tyler can’t seem to escape as he clambers around screaming for help for his friend. Comte creates a nightmare out of a childhood adventure and delves into how children react to emergency and trauma. How they deny it, how they run from it, and how ultimately, they try to solve it. Fauve examines the helpless and naive nature of children, their dependency on adult help and their frustration in not being able to find someone who will listen to them. Although only 16 minutes long, Fauve builds tension and panic fast; quickly and effectively packing in true and terrifying horror. Horror so alarming because of its frightful realism, telling a story that could easily happen to any careless and curious child.
The two leading boys are phenomenal, their playful teasing and bickering identical to that you would find between any two young males. The way their mocking banter switches to instant and real fear is impressive. Comte’s laid-back and natural style of direction really shines here, allowing the young actors such a wide range of freedom makes their reactions seem even more vivid and realistic (and all the more horrifying).
Fauve takes a simple but engaging premise and amplifies its most compelling and emotional features; fully taking advantage of the short film structure. Gritty, sharp and unyielding in what it’s trying to say, Fauve is an emotional punch straight to the gut.
Written by Abi Aherne