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Roman Polanski directs this truly chilling film that tracks the descent into madness of a fragile, sexually confused beauty parlor worker named Carol (Catherine Deneuve) who succumbs to violent paranoia over the course of a harrowing weekend. Unrelenting and claustrophobic, Polanski’s masterful psychological thriller builds the tension to an almost unbearable level before its shocking, unforgettable climax.

Directed by Roman Polanski

9 out of 10

A lot of people think of horror films and the first images that come to mind are a demonically possessed little girl, a masked killer chasing teenagers with a butcher knife, or haunted homes filled with ghosts. But, what if the horror did not come from an external source but was internal within the mind of the main character. That’s the philosophy Roman Polanski takes to Repulsion and the results are excellent.

The main character is not what you would expect from a mentally deranged person. First off, she’s a woman, beautiful, and shy. Her behavior in public would be described as detached and socially awkward. However, as the film progresses and her delusions become stronger and more profound, we start to realize that her problems are so much worse than we’re initially led to believe. What makes this film so effective and ahead of its time is the way Polanski lets the viewer see the world directly from a sick person’s mind. She sees things that aren’t there such as hands reaching out from inside walls, rooms that appear larger and then smaller, and whispers and voices leading her to believe things. It works so well that it almost draws our sympathies when her agoraphobia and delusions lead her down a violent path.

The direction is near flawless from Polanski here. He treats the camera as another character as it travels through the film and I found myself on the edge of seat because of the unpredictability of it. If there’s a flaw, it’s that the supporting characters are almost worthless. They lend little to the story and made me almost wish she was completely alone in her existence so that we could have even more scenes of the world closing in on her. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Catherine Deneuve in the main role. If her performance doesn’t sell the world Polanski is creating, it all falls apart. However, be warned. This is not a conventional movie with an A-B storyline. It’s more of a snapshot of mental illness and is meant to viewed as an experience rather than a linear path. If it still piques your interest, I highly recommend it.

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