A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Girls with Balls is a French-language horror movie with English subtitles that aims to frighten, elicit laughs from over-the-top carnage, and show "heroic" women mowing down their demented enemies. A van filled with female volleyball players breaks down in a remote forest. As the young women seek help, they find themselves in the midst of a cult of brutally insane men, often hooded, and always grotesque. It's kill or be killed for most of the movie. Expect excessive violence: decapitation, extremities severed, machete and gun kills, cannibalism, occult rituals, relentless gushing blood, exploding heads, and the "comic" destruction of a feral dog. The ghoulishness of the madmen extends to peeing on the women, gross sexual comments, and maniacal threats. Language includes profanity, insults, and sexual references: "f--k," "s--t," bitch," "whore," "hand-job," "balls," "bastards," "d--k," "p---y." There's some sexy dancing and kissing; a lesbian couple smooches. Characters smoke cigarettes and drink in a bar. This hybrid of comic mayhem, female quasi-empowerment, and eye-popping violence isn't for kids.
What's the story?
In GIRLS WITH BALLS, a team of squabbling but successful female volleyball players are on the road in a van driven by their coach (Artus). Best friends Jeanne (Tiphaine Daviot) and Lise (Camille Razat) are momentarily feuding about a boy. Team captain Hazuki (Anne-Solene Hatte) is demanding and annoying the others. M.A. (Louise Blachere) feels picked on. Tatiana (Margot Defrene) and Dany (Dany Verissinmo-Petit) are setting themselves apart, locked in a newly flourishing romance. And Morgane (Manon Azem) is Team Falcons' mean girl; nobody likes her. When the van breaks down on an isolated forest road, the girls venture into the foliage looking for help. What they find instead is a roadhouse populated by a bevy of hideous men who quickly reveal themselves to be predators. In an all-out war with weapons and vile attacks, the team and their coach become prey. As bodies pile up (both good guys and baddies), the suspense and the danger escalate. The young women quickly realize that rivalries must be forgotten and they must work together if any of them are to survive.
Is it any good?
With monstrous villains, goofy one-note heroines, and enough over-the-top murderous action to satisfy the most ardent horror fans, the filmmakers aim first and foremost for shock, awe, and laughs. And they succeed in generating all three... to a point. All of the actors seem to relish their bizarre roles. Premier special makeup effects artist Olivier Afonso directs his first feature film with gusto and skill. With its potential for "midnight screenings" (the film won both "Best Kill" and "Best SFX" at the 2018 Grimfest Awards), it could be one of those little features that attains cult status. Still, there's an aura of sadistic malice that underscores the story. It's hard to watch such misogynist violence and ugliness even when the victims rise up to the challenge.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. Is it more cartoonish than real? Did you find yourself scared or laughing? What is it about gross-out violence that appeals to audiences? Why is it important to understand the impact of violence, even comic violence, on kids?
How did the opening on-camera music in Girls with Balls prepare audiences for the tone and intention of the movie they were about to see? After hearing and seeing the song, were you ever in doubt about the aim of the filmmakers?
In what ways did this movie promote female "empowerment?" On the other hand, how did it display sexism and male dominance?
Does the fact that Girls with Balls is a French movie surprise you? What characteristics of this movie do you think appeal to worldwide audiences?
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