Simon Lavoie’s gorgeous adaptation of the popular Québécois novel, The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches critiques, subverts, and reinvents the Quebec horror film.
This is an excerpt of the essay which appears in the ebook Beyond Empowertainment: Feminist Horror and The Struggle for Female Agency. Get your copy of the ebook here.
Because “Brother” (Marine Johnson) was raised as a boy all her life, she is always struggling to understand herself. She doesn’t know her body, of course, but she also doesn’t know anything of the outside world: her father keeps her brother, “Son,” and her confined to their property. She is a girl with little but her own determination to get her through Simon Lavoie’s latest film, The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches, based loosely on the novel by French-Canadian Gaétan Soucy — a sensation in Quebec.As an outsider to the genre, Lavoie proves the ideal overseer to subvert the Quebec horror film.Click To Tweet
Lavoie’s adaptation is a gothic horror departure for him from last year’s acclaimed political pseudo-documentary, Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves. As an outsider to the horror genre, Lavoie turns out to be the ideal overseer to critique and subvert the Quebec horror film. An otherwise simply bizarre detail, like Brother being raised as a boy, is afforded greater meaning in the context of Quebec horror’s history. Unlike Hollywood horror, Quebec horror tends to favour male protagonists. This suggests that Brother’s father was attempting to literally form her into a more traditional Quebec horror lead. Overall, the film plays out with an aura of dread always in the air, giving mundane actions a tinge of danger or uncertainty.Quebec horror films deal with subjects of sexual repression, religious salvation and damnation, and death.Click To Tweet
Lavoie seems to be keenly aware of the history of Quebec horror cinema, and the Quebec cultural canon that Soucy’s novel exists within. Matches both closely follows and intentionally undercuts these conventions. From the first French-language horror film produced in Quebec, Jean Beaudin’s Le Diable est parmi nous, to New French Extremity co-productions such as Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs, Quebec horror films have always dealt with subjects of sexual repression, religious salvation and damnation, and death. They tend to treasure masculinity, but occasionally challenge it. And they constantly relitigate the urban/rural divide in Quebec.
Want to read the rest of the interview? Order a copy of our forthcoming ebook on feminist horror beyond empowertainment here.