A few ticklish spectators apparently left the room of The Substance, faced with the hemoglobin-filled spectacle of Demi Moore injecting herself with rejuvenating products. But this feminist horror film by Frenchwoman Coralie Fargeat, which is a charge against the abuses of cosmetic surgery, received a warm welcome on the Croisette. It proves that genre cinema, particularly horror, has definitively established itself at the Cannes Film Festival.

“I really designed the film as an experience that is both sensory and visual and also like an emotional roller coaster of which laughter is a part,” Coralie Fargeat explains to AFP. “The excessive side of gore allows us to talk about very serious things while completely playing down the drama (…). For me this genre is very linked to humor,” continues the director, who signed the film Revenge in 2017 and is seeking, with The Substance, the Palme d’Or. The prize list will be revealed on Saturday evening.

Also in competition, the Swedish-Polish director Magnus Von Horn left his mark with The Young Woman with a Needle, a beautiful film which shows, through trying scenes, the trajectory of a Danish woman in 1918 mistreated by destiny and forced to abort. With The Shrouds, the octogenarian David Cronenberg (The Fly, Crash) is for once surprisingly economical with hemoglobin, but does not hesitate to show tortured bodies.

Les Shrouds, which did not appeal to Le Figaro, follows a man (Vincent Cassel) inconsolable since the death of his wife, who watches the bodies rot under connected shrouds… German actress Diane Kruger often appears naked, with a body covered in scars. “I rarely do very naked roles, it’s not what I love the most. And on top of being naked, having all these scars, being damaged… Really, I wasn’t feeling well, she confided to AFP. We had to let go and I relied a lot on Vincent (Cassel), who knows Cronenberg well.”

The Apprentice, the explosive biopic of young Donald Trump, which shook the Republican candidate’s spokesperson off his hinges, also features a small, crude sequence of cosmetic surgery. Out of competition, Women on the Balcony, by Noémie Merlant, uses gore as an enjoyable release. The French actress and director imagined a female trio who revolt, in their own way, against patriarchy.

This isn’t the first time Cannes has opened up to what has long been considered a subgenre. The film Titane by Frenchwoman Julia Ducournau, drenched in gore, won the Palme d’Or in 2021.

Proof of this recognition, a Fantasy Pavilion dedicated to horror, thriller and science fiction has been set up within the Marché du Film, frequented each year by more than two thousand professionals. An independent initiative.

“This is the second year that this pavilion is in Cannes, the idea was to create a meeting point,” Tim Luna, a producer based in Mexico, explains to AFP. “Even if films of these genres are in the selections at Cannes, there was no real place to hear the voices of those who make them,” underlines this professional who is convinced that horror has a bright future. in front of her.