Trailer: Julia Ducournau’s ‘Titane’ Promises More Unsettling Feminist-Dystopianoir-Horror

For her debut 2012 film Mange (which was made for television) Julia Ducournau wrote a protagonist who was in recovery from an eating disorder and on a relentless revenge mission. She followed with 2016’s Raw – her first theatrical release – in which Garance Miller played Justine, a vegetarian who encounters a nightmare world of animalistic sex and cannibalism at the veterinary school she is attending. Rolling Stone called it the “best horror of the decade.”

So yes, the French director does not shy away from putting her characters in extreme, mostly traumatizing situations that, at least in the case of Raw, offer a metaphorical journey of female self-discovery in a world which still wants women to be defined within societally designated boundaries. It’s an uncomfortable brand of feminism, to be sure, and yet always carried out with a particularly biting sense of dark humor, and all highly stylized.

And as the trailer arrives for her latest, the enigmatically titled Titane (in French theaters July 14, US release date via NEON TBD), there’s little reason to expect anything other than yet another disquieting odyssey with Agathe Rouselle’s central character Alexia. Little information has been revealed about the plotline, except that a series of gruesome murders have been taking place without resolution in some unnamed, dystopianoir (consider that coined) place and time. Perhaps a clue comes by way of the title, with the word “titane” being defined as “a dark-gray or silvery, lustrous, very hard, light, corrosion-resistant, metallic element, occurring combined in various minerals: used in metallurgy to remove oxygen and nitrogen from steel and to toughen it.” Hmm.

The trailer is as unsettling and luridly sexual as one might have expected from Ducournau, with eerily lit scenarios (nothing seems to be taking place in the daytime), lots of horrorotic grinding, some casual ingesting of toilet paper, a little girl (the young Alexia?) hooked up to a ghastly metal medical contraption, and Alexia staring into some unidentified but prodigious inferno. Mercifully, The Zombies’ ‘She’s Not There’ kicks in at 58 seconds to add at least some levity, while everything seems to be burning down all around. There is a bit of Cronenberg about it stylistically, but this is all female viewpoint, to be sure.

Titane was an official selection at Cannes 2021, so it’s safe to say that this is likely going to be another masterpiece of feminist-gothic-horror from a director who is surely about to be propelled to international acclaim. Still and all, one should take heed to approach with caution.

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