How to tame the girl in the Tankwa


TRYING to control the shape-shifter within: Samantha (Chantelle Werth) taken on a short trip by an overenthusiastic detective. Photograph courtesy Die Pelsloper.

IF YOU’VE BEEN reluctant to watch part two of Die Pelsloper because you’re afraid to do so alone and in the dark, ‘reluct’ no more. The story, coined by Martyn Le Roux, takes on roughly where it left off, but sprinkled with a theme of love rather than the unequivocal cliffhanger that it ended on. And here, it takes on a much more domestic tone. There are pluses and minuses in this two-and-a-quarter hour-long climax to the tale.

Here you get a development on the George Coetzee character, and you discover that he’s not just a curious scientific kinda bloke. He’s quite keen to get his leg over the leggy Samantha. Having done some homework, he knows, or thinks he knows a little more as to why she’s so creepy.

And this is where the struggle to keep your interest may come in. While you’re sitting there in part one, heart thumping and a pillow half blocking your sight, in anticipation for something really scary, you’re intensely focused. As soon as that demon is explained away, you’re left with a story of, yes violence and bloodshed, monsters and devils, but also homely and wholesome domesticity and motherhood.

If you think of some of the contradictions inherent in horror flicks of the nature of locally-made film, Tokoloshe, but also pieces such as Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, each of which earned the singular honour of being the scariest movie for its era, you will know that the big reveal is a very dangerous part of the creative energy for the work. Show too much and you’re at risk of revealing flaws in your CGI. Show too much and maybe your audience will shriek with merciless laughter rather than terror.

You’re not urged to laugh in Die Pelsloper’s big reveal, but the horror of the monster in question is so clinically, almost medically explained that it comes across as nothing more than a menstrual period. Yes, this beautiful woman turns rogue and horrible and sheds blood in tandem with the moon’s cycle, but she’s lovely and loving the rest of the time.

And while this project is a very fine achievement for Le Roux, as a debut initiative, with a strong sound track (it’s better in part two), you cannot help but imagine how this tale would have worked had the two parts been edited down to fit into the size of a regular feature film. All the elements are there; some tightness would have lent you the adrenaline rush coupled with the sense of relief: the gap between parts one and two (even if you binge watch them together) dilutes this tension, sorely.

  • Die Pelsloper is an Afrikaans-language feature film in two parts written and directed by Martyn Le Roux and features a cast headed by Stephanie Bothma, Francois Coertze, Wikus de Kock, Johan Haasbroek, Lisa Heath, Zani Myburgh, Su Nightingale, Hayley Pieters, Pieter Theron, Sienna Lily Schmidt, Carike van Zyl and Chantelle Werth. Produced by Martyn LeRoux, it features creative input by Juandre Spangenberg, Yolandé Strauss and Desmond Wells (music). Release date of part two on vimeo: May 3 2019.

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