(Silence, We Are Shooting)
Director/Screenplay – Christophe Lamot, Photography – Nicolas Anseroul & Christophe Mortier, Music – Sebastian Schmitz, Digital Effects – Christophe Mortier, Special Effects – Rob Ceus & Starfish. Production Company – Cine Sous-Terre
Christophe Lamot (Chris Lamot), Christophe Mortier (Morty), Kevin Van Nuffel (Kevin), Francois Huntzinger (Francois), Nicolas Anseroul (Nico), Christophe Michelet (Michel), Jo Reymen (The Producer), Sebastian Schmitz (Seb), Albert Jeunehomme (Professor Albert), Aldo Palucci (Aldo), Dr Christian Wanty (The Doctor)
In Brussels, Chris Lamot is fed up with trying to get a film made via the Belgian process of film funding and organises a film crew to shoot a ‘live’ movie. He obtains a blackmarket handgun. He and his crew go to meet a producer but when the producer admits he lost the script that Chris sent him, Chris pulls the gun. Fleeing, the producer falls down the stairwell and kills himself. As they make plans to dispose of the body, Chris eliminates members of the film crew and others who get in his way.
Although somewhat forgotten today, the Belgian Man Bites Dog (1992) was a film way ahead of its time. It was a darkly satiric version of a reality tv show made before the idea hit the mainstream; it did the whole Found Footage approach before it became fashionable with The Blair Witch Project (1999) and went meteoric with the worldwide release of Paranormal Activity (2007) in 2009. Seen today, Man Bites Dog is still a very funny film – even more so when you see it in light of the fashions in reality tv and mockumentary filmmaking that would follow.
Silence, Ça Tue is a further Belgian Found Footage that comes in a similar vein to Man Bites Dog. It is likewise a black comedy posing as footage shot following a person as they bump off those in their way. It cannily suggests a Man Bites Dog that might have occurred after Blair Witch Project/Paranormal Activity. Man Bites Dog is not referenced as such (although its star Benoit Poelvoorde is namedropped at one point) but its shadow hangs over Silence, Ça Tue.
Director Christophe Lamot and his collaborators, most of whom also act as his cast, have a good deal of amusement with the ‘live’ movie concept. Some of the film has been conceived as a series of digs, if not mud throwing attacks, on the Belgian film industry. While one picked up on some of the references, this is clearly something that makes a good deal more sense if you know something about the Belgian film industry, – if you are not (ie. most of the world), it feels more like an elaborate in-joke pitched only to a particular artistic circle. More amusing are the film’s jokes on the Found Footage approach and pretensions of amateur filmmakers. Particularly funny is the scene where Christophe Lamot and the crew get in a cab and he asks the cab driver to play a cd he has while the cameraman aims his camera out the window at passing scenery so they can have a credits sequence with music, or where Lamot is discussing having the musician (Sebastian Schmitz) walk around following them playing a guitar or an accordion to act as soundtrack.
The film develops an appealingly dark kick when it starts into the murders, especially the scene where Christophe Lamot pulls a gun on the big-name producer (Jo Reymen) who has lost the script he sent him. On the other hand, Silence, Ça Tue still remains down at the level of a glorified amateur film – something you could never have said about Man Bites Dog. The black comedy is extremely scattershot. The film and plot needed a good deal more editorial tightening – both in the conception and in post-production. The playing out of the concept is not punchy enough – sometimes it hits, other times the film drags (scenes like the venture to the party, the visit to Lamot’s mother). Moreover, the satire on the Belgian film industry fails to emerge with any kind of potent barb. All that it feels like is an amateur film where a group of friends decided to make a film without much pre-planning or idea of where everything was going. It arrives at an abrupt ending – Lamot shoots the soundman and the sound goes out, whereupon he disappears into a house to eliminate the Dardenne Brothers (two of Belgium’s most prominent and awards-friendly filmmakers, again a reference that not many people outside of Belgium are likely to get) and the film then ends on a flash of light from a gunshot inside the house.
There are certainly some decent performances. Director/star Christophe Lamot has the cockily ruthless charm of someone constantly on the make but with an edgy underlying desperation – and it his personality that drives the film. He has handsome good looks and is easily the sort of actor you could imagine finding star potential. Also very good opposite him is the tubby Christophe Mortier. Mortier does an excellent job of playing with a longsuffering exasperation, of following orders while clearly conveying a sense of not being happy about doing so without ever coming out and saying so.