In Ecoute Le Temps, a grieving sound recordist goes to her dead mother's house and discovers she can hear the past whenever she turns on her equipment. Can she solve the mystery of her mother's murder? Charlotte pieces together snatches of dialogue from the days running up to the fateful event, also reflecting on her relationship with her mother. It's an atmospheric, slow-burning chiller that rewards the patient viewer with just enough jumps and bumps.
With a high concept more reminiscent of Japanese horrors than French thrillers, this Gallic offering is a good deal more subtle than your average paranormal shocker. Focusing on character rather than terror, it sees Charlotte getting to know each of the creepy villagers while delving into their pasts. Her mother was a tarot card reader, so many of the locals came to her door. Using her microphone, Charlotte is amazed to find she can hear the sessions of the years before. Different parts of the house correspond with different time zones, so she chalks notes on the floor and tries to pinpoint the exact moment at which her mother died.
"SHOULD KEEP GENRE FANS HOOKED"
The script doesn't exploit all the dramatic possibilities of this idea, although the inevitable Hollywood remake may well do. Charlotte's audio discoveries are often accompanied by visual flashbacks, which help fill in the gaps, but lessen the suspense: there's no ambiguity about what's going on. Ecoute Le Temps is a modest affair - grey and gritty, not particularly scary - but its mix of murder mystery and supernatural drama should still keep fans of both genres hooked.
Ecoute Le Temps is out in the UK on 17th August 2007.