Filmmaker Pascal Plante searches for humanity in a disembodied world with The Red Rooms, a psychological thriller that won four awards at Fantasia, including the Cheval Noir for best feature film.

“I’m a little surprised that SODEC and Telefilm got on board the first time! laughs the Quebec director. It was clear that it was a singular film, a little off the mark. »

The red rooms, presented in world premiere at Karlovy Vary and which will be released in theaters this Friday, stands out in Quebec cinema. This distressing feature film with assumed influences – Fincher, Haneke, Argento, De Palma – focuses on the hyper-mediatized trial of a man who allegedly murdered three teenage girls and broadcast their deaths on the dark web, in these famous “rooms red”.

“Everything suggests that these rooms exist,” explains the director.

The subject was born during confinement, when Pascal Plante had just finished Nadia, Butterfly and he had the blues, having no idea when the public could discover his film. “This depressive and cyclothymic side of the pandemic lent itself well to exploring some darker things. »

He started watching movies. More than 400 feature films per year, not counting series and hours spent on YouTube. “It’s a lot of screen time, concedes the main interested party. There was this desire to think about the audiovisual media that we consume en masse. »

The true crime genre took hold, and he began writing about contemporary themes like the masses’ obsession with serial killers and conspiracy theories.

The particularity of the story is to present the events according to the subjectivity of Kelly-Anne (Juliette Gariépy, La maison des folies), an obsessed young woman who tries by all means to find the missing video of the murder of one of the victims. An enigmatic and sociopathic heroine whose disturbing actions do not fail to disturb.

“We wonder if she’s nice or mean,” says the screenwriter.

What connects Kelly-Anne to the real world is a budding friendship with Clémentine (Laurie Babin, L’Échappée), a young groupie who is convinced of the innocence of the alleged killer. As in the director’s previous films, Nadia, Butterfly and The Fake Tattoos, it is possible to extricate yourself from isolation and loneliness by creating a bond with another human being.

“That’s where the film resembles me,” admits the director. I like on-screen duos who are looking for connectivity, a little warmth. Even if they are not a priori endearing characters, it is my job as a filmmaker to love them. By spending time with them, you end up understanding them and having empathy. »

The psychological evolution of Kelly-Anne is thus as important, if not more, than the development of the plot. By conducting her own investigation, this selfish figure who projects her fantasies and her desires embarks on a way of the cross that will change her forever.

“At the start of the odyssey, it’s like a robot or Pinocchio who wants to be a child like the others,” analyzes Pascal Plante. When she sees the mother of one of the victims constantly slashing the killer and being truly distressed, she becomes human. She realizes that the violence consumed a little stupidly every day is real and that it hurts. »

Pascal Plante’s first excursion to genre film allowed him to express himself as never before in terms of directing. The red rooms are full of daring and meticulously developed plans, while the music of his brother Dominique Plante haunts us with his catchy melodies.

“In good genre films, the filmmakers are in full possession of their means and their tools,” says the director. They must understand the sound, the atmosphere, the rhythm, the editing. It is in this type of cinema that you can do the most as a filmmaker. Suddenly, you are not confined to restraint. You can butter thick, you are no longer constrained by realism. It’s really very exciting for us. While the genre film is particularly exhilarating for the cinephile who lives a real experience, because something physical emanates from it. »