Death Wish

still1 Death Wish 7 Days
Running time 105 minutes
Written by Patrick Senécal
Directed by PODZ (Daniel Grou)
Starring Rémy Girard, Claude Legault, Martin Dubreuil

On the French-Canadian shocker 7 Days, not to be confused with 7 Days to Noon, 7 Days Leave, 6 Days 7 Nights or any of the 16 other films with the same title, an 8-year-old girl is raped and murdered while delivering invitations to her birthday party. The maniac responsible is found quickly, labeled as a chief suspect and identified by police through DNA matches as a 31-year-old laborer with a history of sexual crimes against children. The trial is expected to be a slam dunk. This is good news for the neighbors in a rural town near Montreal, but small consolation for the child’s father, a respected doctor and a mild, gentle man driven to the brink of madness by grief and loss. So he sets in motion a meticulous plan for revenge while the movie centers on the seven days it takes for the plan to work—a gruesome plot involving stealing surgical equipment, antibiotics and an artificial respirator from the hospital; hijacking the police van escorting the pedophile to jail; drugging and kidnapping him; and rigging elaborate tortures, which the audience is forced to witness in detail. After he kills his captive, one organ at a time, he promises to give himself up on his daughter’s birthday. The movie begins like The Lovely Bones and ends like the entire Saw franchise.

It’s hard to tell which one is sicker—the pedophile or the man who takes the law into his hands with his own perverted sense of justice. Smashing his victim’s knees with a sledgehammer, urinating in his face, then reaching for the scalpel, it is clear that the doctor reaches the dark side in record time, but his victim is not without his own insane-asylum psychology. “None of this is going to bring your little girl back,” he taunts. “The worst thing is, you don’t even seem to be enjoying yourself.” The doctor castrates him anyway. All you can do is wait to see how it plays out, and who will pay the greater price. Nothing is quite what it seems. Even the chief police inspector has empathy, since his own wife was killed by a nut case in a convenience store robbery. It’s all very well directed, by PODZ (Daniel Grou); grimly adapted by Patrick Senécal from his best-selling novel; and superbly acted, especially by Claude Legault as the anguished father who saw Death Wish too many times, and even resembles Tom Wilkinson in In the Bedroom. Martin Dubreuil is also excellent as the predator-turned-quarry, although the role could not have been much fun to play, since he spends the entire movie naked, trussed and chained to a table like a steer in a slaughterhouse waiting to be gutted. Despite the blood and gore, 7 Days is a cut above the usual splice-and-dice horror festival, but it’s not for the squeamish or fainthearted.