Dec 1, 2017

Stronghold (1985)

Stronghold (original Belgian title, Wildschut) is a unique take on the Desperate Hours hostage film.  A lot of shit goes down at the Deleye farmhouse over the course of this film, full of tension and unexpected turns.  Let's check it out...

Meet the Deleye family.  They live way out in the country.  Dad Deleye (Josse De Pauw) poaches for food and rules the house with a stern fist.  Also at the table is the mindful wife, Sybil (Chris Lomme) and the dutiful son, Hugo (Marc Van Eeghem) who works for the local sheriff's department.

The fourth member of the family is Lisa (Annick Christiaens) who's out collecting eggs from the hen house... when, suddenly, something terrible happens.

Here's Jim (Hidde Maas).  He's a ruthless criminal needing a hideout.

Lisa is thrown to the kitchen floor along with Hugo.

We quickly learn that Jim is one ruthless sonuvabitch.  You get that feeling of tension where you are on edge wondering if someone's going to get killed at any moment.  If you've seen Funny Games, House at the Edge of the Park or The Desperate Hours, you know the feeling.

Here's Jim flinging around Lisa's baby, demonstrating that he clearly has no respect for human life whatsoever.

Jim has an injured partner, Charlie (Jack Monkau) who's not quite so ruthless.  Jim sets him up in Lisa's room, and has her sit on him while he's given an injection.

Meanwhile, the cavalry is in hot pursuit.  We are given flashes of soldiers and helicopters on a manhunt, but they don't know the criminals' location yet.

Jim knows they're coming; it's inevitable  What happens next is one of the more graphic rape scenes you're likely to see.

Actress Annick Christiaens delivers a brave scene, where she is traumatically raped by Jim.

Annick Christiaens has since gone on to a very successful career in France and Belgium, appearing in numerous TV shows and doing voice-over work. Here she is these days:

This was only her second credit on IMDb; she has consistently worked up until today.

The local sheriff has suspicions that something peculiar is going on at the Deleye homestead.

He keeps getting close, but Jim and Charlie always remain just out of reach, still concealed in the home.

As the day goes on, we learn that the Deleye family has its share of problems.  Lisa's baby is actually from her father (!) - she lives a horrible existence, retreating into her imaginary world.

Charlie and Lisa (and the baby) are confined to the room, and start to develop a bond.  Both want to escape - Lisa from her father, Charlie from Jim.

Jim kills Hugo and then catches Lisa and Charlie screwing.

The next quarter of the film is nothing short of relentless and brilliant.

There's a standoff at the homestead; the military and sheriff's department have converged on the scene.  Jim and Charlie use the baby as a shield for their escape.

Dad Deleye manages to kill Jim.  Then, Lisa hands him the baby and makes off in the getaway car with Charlie.  Woah!

A chase scene ensues, but doesn't end in a way you'd expect.  Lisa drives the car off a cliff, bailing from the vehicle in the nick of time, but Charlie is killed.   THE END.