You judge a splatter/slasher film on its own merits, at a comfortable remove from the polite society of the rest of cinema. They operate on a different wavelength and can’t be compared to any other genre, only to other films in theirs.
And one with vengeful volleyball players, hunted and then hunting their hunters in the wilds of France? “Girls with Balls?” That’s a totally different animal.
Because, you know, it’s a splatter film with subtitles!
Director/co-writer Olivier Afonso’s gonzo French comedy takes an unruly, foul-mouthed and sexually active volleyball team of competitive, sometimes back-biting French girls and drops them in the Pyrenees, hunted by cultists, “inbred hunters.”
He slaps a “Something About Mary” styled French troubadour (Orleson), dressed in cowboy singer-wear, as a Greek chorus — teasing the plot, singing about this “sport like tennis, where the rackets are your hands,” warning the viewer to “turn off your cell you bastards, this is a cinema!”
And to those volleyball “Girls with Balls,” the Falcons? They’d better get some sleep when they get lost in Coach’s (Victor Artus Solaro) team RV,”Cow-Boy” sings, “for tomorrow, you will DIE!”
The Falcons, especially tall bombshell Morgane (Manon Azem), aren’t beyond cheating to win — on the court. Captain Hazuki (Anne-Solenne Hatte) tries to keep the peace. But Morgane picks on nerdy M.A. (Louise Blachère) and cheats with star player Jeanne’s (Tiphaine Daviot) beau. Tatiana (Margot Dufrene) and Dany (Dany Verissimo-Petit) are an item, so don’t try coming between them.
How will they respond when they get lost, camp out and wake up to a gang of local redneck cultists who marked their RV with blood symbols the day before, and greet them with hoods, guns and torches at dawn?
“Inbred hunters are old news…you need to find something new!”
Gum-snapping contempt for gun-nuts is fun.
Shots are fired, motorbikes are fired up, and legions, it seems, of costumed murderous rural rubes scatter the girls into the woods for chasing and killing, leaving portly Coach to flee and mutter how “I DIDN’T abandon them” to himself in a breathless, nonstop rant.
Can they be a “team” that’s cohesive enough to survive the day?
The spatter/splatter tone is set early on, lots of “road kill” covering the windshield as Coach drives them into the wilderness.
Afonso sustains the exploitation by keeping the girls in their “coochie cutter” shorts — lots of butt shots, twerking, a striptease (sort of) or two — anything to let them escape their armed, pitiless pursuers.
It’s not exactly an acting showcase, but the ladies look frightened and defiant when necessary. A crotch-grabbing chihuahua and a beheaded attacker wandering off after his epic fail are among the highlights.
It’s the sort of movie that’s all about attitude, about giving the audience exactly what it wants — gore and empowered cute girls in jeopardy.
Can’t say it’s great, can’t say I didn’t laugh, more than once.
If splatter is your kind of thing, this is your kind of movie. Not bad for what it is, in other words.
And don’t forget the subtitles!
MPAA Rating: TV-MA, graphic violence, sexual content, profanity
Credits: Directed by Olivier Afonso, written by Jean-Luc Cano, Olivier Afonso. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:17