Beyond the Walls is a dark fairytale with surreal and symbolical images.
Beyond the Walls is a French gothic supernatural mystery mini-series that has a surreal atmosphere with intense drama. It’s a story full of symbolism and trauma that is executed in an intense but also very subdued way. It’s an introvert story that feels very claustrophobic both physically and mentally. With an ominous and strange event, a dark fairytale is set in motion to explore a world behind the walls of a building and inside the main character’s mind. Shot in a beautiful dreamlike way that often turns into a nightmare full of bizarre creatures, this mini-series is well worth a watch.
This mini-series consists of 3 episodes that together have a duration of 142 minutes. It has a continuous storyline, that is best watched in one go. It’s highly recommended to watch this series with its original French audio and with subtitles in your own language if possible.
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Lisa is a speech therapist who lives alone in a Spartan-like apartment but lies about it to her colleagues. She has recurring nightmares and often wets her bed at night. She spends her days alone and in solitude to protect herself from harm caused by others, but also maybe to protect herself for something that happened in her past.
Her life changes when one day she inherits the house that is right across from her building and her daily view when she looks out her window. It was always thought that the house was empty but recently they found a dead man in his chair. That man left the house to Lisa for no reason she can yet think of. In his will a picture of a red door is drawn and there’s a bible text at the bottom; John 10:9.
She decides to move into the house and to fix it a bit. But at night she hears strange noises from behind the wall and when she rips off the wallpaper and punches a hole in the wall, she discovers a hallway. When she goes into the hallway to explore what’s behind it, she soon gets lots in the labyrinth that sets her on a path of self discovery and nightmares come to life.
Why you should watch it
Beyond the Walls is actually a very original haunted house movie. Wherein the house, or rather, the world that lies behind it, is also a metaphor for Lisa’s mind and what she has hidden behind her facade. The house, just like Lisa is a mystery that she has to discover to find a way out of the labyrinth of the house and her mind. She loses track of time and space and everything gets jumbled up.
When she encounters a man, Julien, who also has been trapped in the labyrinth for years, she finds that for the first time she’s not alone anymore. Julien has, just like Lisa, a secret trauma hidden inside. Together they try to find a way out, a way that brings them closer to each other, but also to themselves.
Beyond the Walls is visually stunning. The art decoration, the different settings, it all feels like a dark surreal fairytale that is dreamlike and nightmarishly unsettling at the same time. The atmosphere is foreboding and creepy, but strangely it also feels quiet at times. The style is often nihilistic and artistic with static shots, with a lot of quiet scenes, that puts the focus on Lisa and Julien and their traumas. It’s surreal and claustrophobic, but it also does have some poetic scenes at the little house in the meadow by the lake. It’s a tale of Alice descending into the rabbit hole, where a world exists beyond reality.
But it can feel also a bit staged as well. A real stage with big heavy red curtains is even an important element of the story. Although it’s very fitting, it also can feel a bit too staged, and too quiet. The urgency sometimes lacks a bit. Both Lisa and Julien can be too passive, but though this suits their character and what they are each struggling with, for some viewers this might not be satisfying enough.
For those who love a quiet, slow, psychological weird dark fairytale, with beautiful images and original concepts, this is a delight to watch. It’s a story that will linger inside your mind long after you have finished it. Especially the whole vibe and atmosphere is impressive and the idea will grow after the beautiful but sad ending.
My favorite part
I loved the scenes at the house in the meadow. It explained at lot about Lisa. But the surreal hallways, the little chapel, the stage that hides a forest, the way time is anything but linear and the man with the animal head, speak to the imagination too. Not even to mention the strange ritual and poor souls trapped forever. It’s a dark fairytale mixed with some cosmic horror that ensures a very intriguing watch that feels very creepy on a visceral level.
Scare factor: ★★★☆☆
Drama factor: ★★★★☆
Surreal factor: ★★★★★
Originality factor: ★★★★★
Entertainment factor: ★★★★★
Cast and crew
Au-delà des murs/Beyond the Walls is created by Marc Herpoux and Hervé Hadmar. It is directed by Hervé Hadmar and written by Sylvie Chanteux and Hervé Hadmar. It stars Veerle Baetens (lLisa) and François Deblock (Julien).
Duration: 142 minutes. Music by: Éric Demarsan. Cinematography by: Phillipe Piffeteau. Edited by: Aurique Delannoy, Emmanuelle Labbé, Diane Logan. Production company: Lincoln TV. Original network: Arte France.