Out of this World uses unconventional means to tell a frustratingly conventional story, offering something new with its filmmaking but not the content within.
Out of this World was written and directed by Marc Fouchard and stars Kévin Mischel as Léo, a homeless serial killer who has trouble communicating with others, particularly women, and takes comfort in music, dancing, and composing. He comes across a deaf dancer named Amélie (Aurélia Poirier) and becomes fixated on her, which of course leads to ugly consequences for both of them. I anticipate that Out of this World will be disliked by most people who end up seeing it, maybe even outright hated. Do I myself dislike it? Well… yes, but I think I’ll end up being more positive towards it than others. I can sum up the main reason why Out of this World doesn’t work as a whole in one sentence: it’s an unconventional way of telling a frustratingly conventional story.
When you look at what exactly Out of this World is about and what happens throughout, you’ll find absolutely nothing that you probably haven’t seen ad nauseum in dozens of other serial killer stories. The killer, Léo, wants to find a nice woman but he’s too shy. The only way he knows how to react when stressed or anxious is by killing someone… again, usually women. His mind remembers things possibly differently from how they actually happened. He’s artistic and loves interpretive music and dancing. If you think you know exactly what this film has to offer solely from what I’ve just told you, you’re mostly right, and you’ll be in for zero real surprises.
I’m already hard to sell when it comes to deranged killers as protagonists in general, let alone when nothing new is being brought to the table. No matter how well or how uniquely the character is explored, I can’t bring myself to fully enjoy a movie that has this much recycled material. If we saw into Léo’s childhood or were given even hints of more in-depth reasons as to how he became so savage and terrible, or more ambiguous details that could give us more room to interpret something deeper about this man, maybe that could have salvaged the story. But we get very little of the sort, meaning we just have to go off of what we see… which again, is too familiar. Even the performance from Kévin Mischel can’t pull everything through. It’s exceptional work from Mischel with the silent, uncomfortable, subtly vulnerable demeanor he brings to the character, but it still just invokes memories of other fictional psychos that carry themselves similarly.
Still, Out of this World is not a completely worthless, because the way it tells this bare-bones story makes it at least a little more intriguing. Coban Beutelstetter’s editing is probably going to make many people hate the movie, but it was easily what kept my interest the most. It gives further potential insight into how Léo thinks, and it blurs the lines between what’s real and what’s not. Early on, we’re shown Léo having an imaginary dance with someone he saw before, only for that dance to turn aggressive and violent. What makes this interesting is that it’s his own fantasy, clearly the kind of gentle intimacy he wants to have, and yet he still can’t make it work in his own head. There’s another scene where he begins disposing of a body and a sweeping, majestic score plays, but the scene then cuts to that same event in total silence, which could insinuate that he’s hearing that music in his head.
The score is also implied to be Léo’s own compositions… or at least, how he hears his own compositions. He could be a terrible composer who hears his work as he wants to hear it. He’s shown arguing with himself in a Gollum-like shot-reverse-shot manner, which could imply he even has a split personality. Aurélia Poirier plays another role, someone else from Léo’s life, leading me to wonder what that says about what both of these women mean to him or how one affects his outlook on the other. Even some of the kills are interesting because of how they’re cut to so abruptly, interrupting what look like nice moments to possibly illustrate just how harshly Léo’s psychosis interferes with honest-to-God attempts to interact “normally.”
These choices, combined with the moody, intimate compositions and cinematography from Pascal Boudet, often make Out of this World a somewhat interesting experience in the moment. Though it’s relying on clichés you’ve seen over and over, it presents them in a way that has you second-guessing what you’re seeing and makes even the most seemingly black-and-white scene a bit greyer. Had these editing tactics been applied to an even slightly more original story, Out of this World could have really stood out. It’s not even the most incredible filmmaking I’ve ever seen or anything like that, it’s just interesting enough to make me somewhat glad I saw the movie. If you’re willing to read as deeply into a film’s progression or editing as I just did, then Out of this World is maybe something you could find value in. But that’s a huge maybe, and I still don’t think the film as a whole is saved by just these moments of intrigue. It held my attention for an hour and a half, but if I think about it at all after another day, I’ll be solely thinking about the craft and smaller details, not the bigger picture.
Out Of This World will be released on digital HD in the UK on 5 December, 2022, from Bulldog Film Distribution.