The French film industry is one of a kind. As one of the most important cultural institutions in the country, it has produced some of the most well-known directors and filmmakers in history.

One of the most controversial periods in French cinema was between 2000 and 2010, when a movement called “New French Extremity” began taking shape.

This period saw the release of several highly controversial films that shocked the public and critics alike.

This guide explores what New French Extremity is, how it came to be, and what makes it different from other film genres.

New French Extremity Cinema

What Is New French Extremity Cinema?

New French Extremity (New French Extremism or New French Extremism) is a term coined by Artforum critic James Quandt for a collection of transgressive films by French directors at the turn of the 21st century.

At first, it was used to describe a handful of movies by directors like Gaspar Noe, Catherine Breillat and Claire Denis. But as time went on, it became clear that this movement had much broader implications for the future of European filmmaking.

The term was never a formalized genre so much as it was a way of talking about a particular kind of movie and its themes.

Films that fit into the category don’t have too much in common other than their extreme nature — they can be comedies or dramas or thrillers or horror movies, as long as they are extremely graphic and/or nihilistic in tone.



What Is New French Extremity Cinema?

There are two common misconceptions about New French Extremity, a movement in the film that began in the early 2000s and gained prominence with films like Irreversible, Trouble Every Day, The Last Mistress, and High Tension.

One is that it’s a genre unto itself when it is a style of filmmaking that encompasses many different stories and themes. 

The other misconception is that the films are about gore and shock value.

While New French Extremity was born out of extreme horror, some of its most well-known titles are dramas or thrillers.

The New French Extremity is often meant to be shocking. It’s supposed to work on an emotional level and an intellectual one. 

Still, part of its appeal is that it can make viewers feel uncomfortable simply because they don’t know what they’re supposed to be feeling.

In the 1980s and ’90s, young French filmmakers started making controversial movies that pushed the boundaries of sex, violence and narrative.

 But it wasn’t until the early part of the 21st century that critics applied a name to this film movement.

Their movies were called “extreme,” because their shocking content often felt like an assault on the audience. 

Some of these titles include Catherine Breillat’s The Last Mistress (Une vieille maîtresse), Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day and Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible.

Most people familiar with these films know them by their English titles – which is strange considering they were made in France – but they’ve also been grouped under a label that is seldom used outside France: cinéma du.

The term was coined by critic James Quandt, who described it as “a new national cinema that champions the intense, the violent, and the taboo, and provokes feelings of extreme physical and mental states.”Torture porn. Splatter.

 The grotesque. These are a few words used to describe New French Extremity cinema.”

It’s a cinematic genre often associated with horror and touches upon other genres, like drama and thriller.

Its protagonists include serial killers, prostitutes, drug addicts, and strange people you meet late at night in bars who tell you about their past lives in an unfamiliar accent and then ask you for a cigarette.

New French Extremity presents its audience with characters who are just as likely to be victims as villains.

History Of New French Extremity Cinema

French New Extremity (Nouvelle Auteur) is a blanket term applied to a group of French filmmakers working in the early 21st century who have revived the spirit and look of the classic “Nouvelle Vague” films of the late 1950s and 1960s. 

Their style has been characterised as graphic and controversial, dealing with horror, violence and sex.

Their work is often referred to as “extreme”, although this was not a label formally applied by critics or filmmakers at the time of release.

Description: New French Extremity (French: nouvelle extrême) is a current exploitation film production within the French film industry, usually made with very little money. 

The movement began in 2000 with Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible, and since then, there have been over 200 productions made with similar aesthetics.

The films are usually produced in France, but they were also made in Italy, Belgium, and Canada. Description: 

New French Extremity is aligned with the overall trend toward transgressive art in the 1990s, which includes shock rock, grindhouse cinema and American independent productions such as Night on Earth (1991), Gummo (1997) or Ken Park (2002).

The terms “New French Extremity” and “New Extreme Cinema” have been used interchangeably by critics to describe these films and filmmakers.

Essential Filmmakers Of New French Extremity Cinema

avant-garde film movement started in the later years of the 20th century to break away from mainstream cinema and create a new type of cinematic language. Besides the numerous directors and films that are part of this movement, many art-house films can be considered part of this trend.

Some examples include: Irréversible (2002) by Gaspar Noé, Ma mère (2004) by Philippe Grandrieux, Anatomie d’un rapport (2004) by Robin Campillo, Haute tension (2003) by Alexandre Aja, Beau travail (1999) by Claire Denis and Le concile de pierre (1996) by Christophe Honoré.

It all started with Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi’s novella King Kong théorie, on which Noé’s film was based.

The book talks about “the new French extreme cinema” intentionally made to shock people. 

This idea also resulted in the creation of Les Films du Worso, a production company created to help finance these types of films.

The goal is to achieve a state of constant agitation in their audience through visuals and sounds. To do so, they use.

While there may be more to come, here are the 13 essential filmmakers of French Extremity Cinema.

Essential Films Of New French Extremity Cinema

In the wake of the French New Wave, France’s new kind of cinematic movement was born. Known as “New French Extremity,” it has been called “the most divisive film movement of [the 21st century].”


This documentary aims to explore and define the movement, which is controversial in its content and nature.

 Touted as a survey of the action, the film does not show all of the filmmakers associated with it, nor does it include all of the defining features.

However, it does provide an overview of its history and highlights many important aspects. Several interviews with academic figures and filmmakers are featured throughout.

The documentary starts by providing some context for New French Extremity Cinema’s emergence in the early 2000s.

 It is shown that some filmmakers were influenced by prior movements such as German Expressionism and Italian Neorealism, while others were more focused on their own individual projects.

Once contextualised, these films are analysed from various perspectives. These range from discussions about their technical aspects (cinematography, editing, sound design), their implications within their respective narratives (gender politics, social commentary), and their effectiveness as vehicles for eliciting extreme emotional reactions in viewers.

The directors’ stated intentions are also considered. For example, Gaspar No.

Sheitan (2006)

A group of vacationing friends is stranded in the backwoods of Louisiana and forced to fight for survival when they encounter a horde of violent, sex-crazed maniacs.

’Description: ‘A group of friends are having fun in an isolated mansion in the middle of nowhere.

They soon discover that they are not alone and will have to fight for their lives. 

Description: A group of friends travels through the country on a road trip when they get lost in the swamps and decide to stop in an old manor house.

They soon discover that they are not alone and will have to fight for their lives. Name: How to Write a Blog Post That Will Be Read by 10,000 People.

A big city tries to control a dangerous wild beast called the Sheitan. 

The beast is captured but escapes and hides in an abandoned building where a party is going on.

The party people become his victims one after another.

High Tension (2003)

High Tension (aka Haute Tension, Switchblade Romance and Switchblade Romance) is an excellent French horror film by director Alexandre Aja that tells the story of a young girl named Marie who is kidnapped by a psychotic killer while on her way home from school. 

When his latest victim escapes, he goes after her friends and family in a bloody rampage of revenge.

The film stars Cecile de France as Marie, Maïwenn as Alex, Philippe Nahon as The Killer and Jean-Baptiste Malartre as Francis. 

This French film was remade in America under the name of Haute Tension in 2005 and was directed by Jim Mickle.

This is what I like to call a “slasher” type of movie where every character becomes a suspect until the climax when you’re left to decide who’s gonna get offed next. 

This is one of those movies that has humour, but at the same time, it is intense, gory and very entertaining.

If you’re into slasher types of movies, I recommend checking this out. It’s also one of those films that you have to watch to appreciate because there’s so much going on that if you haven’t watched it more than once, you might be left confused.

Trouble Every Day (2001)

Annie’s film was shot on 16mm black and white reversal stock, which produced some rather lovely grain and a great sense of depth and texture in the images. 

The result is a very natural look that really serves the material well.

There are no fancy tracking shots or anything flashy like that, but it’s all prominent and easy to follow. 

Trouble Every Day was shot in 10 days over 5 weeks.

The final product runs just under 2 hours, and the first cut was 6 hours long! Céline and I edited the film with my friend Mark Toscano in several stages.

 It was shot entirely chronologically over 5 weeks in late 2000, beginning in October and ending in December.

We had rehearsed for about a month before we started shooting in earnest (which meant there were actually 11 weeks of rehearsals), so we had a pretty good idea of what each scene would be like when we finally got around to shooting it.2016-10-20T12:00:00Z, Almost every line from the 1995 movie Hackers needs to be said by your computer hacker character at one point or another—that’s just how the movie rolls.

But if you’re looking to do some actual.

Man Bites Dog (1992)

Man Bites Dog is a 1992 Belgian-French black comedy crime mockumentary written, produced, and directed by Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, and Benoît Poelvoorde.The film was made in response to the Belgian Minister of Culture challenge.

The filmmakers were given a low budget and told to produce a film with no script. They decided to make a documentary about a serial killer.

The project was filmed over five months on a low budget. 

The filmmakers decided not to inform their subjects that they were making a mockumentary during filming.

In audio commentary on the DVD release, director Rémy Belvaux explains that he wanted the film’s events to unfold without any preconceived idea. 

The film won many awards worldwide, including the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1992.

It is considered a clear example of the “mockumentary” subgenre of films, inspiring later works such as Jam (2000), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) and American Movie (1999). In 2015, It was voted one of the 100 most outstanding motion pictures since 2000 in an international critics’ poll conducted by BBC.

Man Bites Dog is a 1992 Belgian black comedy crime mockumentary film and the feature debut of director Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, and Benoît Poelvoorde.

Irreversible (2002)

This film is one of the most powerful and disturbing I’ve seen in a long time. 

I found it very graphic, so if you don’t like that type of thing, maybe this isn’t the proper film for you.

The director really gets into your head with this movie, and at one point, I was actually crying during it.

 I thought it was a great film and a must-see. If you don’t mind the graphic stuff, you should definitely check this out! It is an excellent psychological thriller! Plot: Two men, Marcus and Pierre, are walking home from a night out.

They pass by a gay bar and spot a young man, Alex, standing on the side of the street. 

They invite him to join them for a drink at the bar, where Alex tells them that he is waiting for a friend.

After mouthing off to the bartender, who refuses to serve him more alcohol, Alex is thrown out of the bar. 

He comes across Marcus and Pierre again, who offers him a ride home.

I don’t know what to make of this movie other than it was completely messed up and messed with my head.

Importance Of New French Extremity Cinema

New French Extremity is a film movement that started in the mid-1990s and is still ongoing.

 This movement has had a significant influence on horror and exploitation cinema, so much that it is difficult to talk about contemporary horror without touching on the New French Extremity.

Torture porn found footage and the use of gore in cinema are just a few of the things that can be attributed to New French Extremity. 

This new wave of extreme cinema has been known to push the boundaries of what is considered appropriate in film and what makes an audience uncomfortable.


The genre that this movement helped spawn has become one of the most profitable parts of the movie industry. In fact, horror has become one of the most popular genres among filmmakers.

Every new movie that comes out these days is either based on a book or inspired by a true story, which lends itself well to horror movies.

 New French Extremity film directors have taken their work to new extremes by making more realistic films and often more brutal than ever before.

Many people feel that these filmmakers take their work too far and find themselves too disturbed by what they see on film. 

The directors often reference current events such as 9/11 or ISIS to inspire fear.

New French Extremity Cinema Theory

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of books and articles on the subject of “New French Extremity” cinema. 

This article argues that this critical discourse is best understood as a publishing phenomenon rather than a film movement or even a trend.

It also argues that “New French Extremity” is not a coherent term but rather a catch-all phrase which allows the publication of any kind of book or article where the author can find some sort of connection with the films it refers to.


The report examines the marketing strategies behind the publications, their generic components and thematic patterns, and finally, their primary target audiences.

It concludes by questioning whether there is any need for such theorisation and asks whether the “New French Extremity” theory is not just another example of academic publishing following commercial trends and marketing strategies rather than feeding off genuine academic interests in cinema. 

The French have a reputation for being cool. In the 1960s, it was summed up in the word “chic,” but this has since been replaced with the more sophisticated-sounding “cool.”

The French, we are told, are excellent because they wear berets and smoke cigarettes and drink wine while eating cheese and making love.

The End Of New French Extremity Cinema

Is it possible for the New French Extremity to come back after all? In 

France, the question is if it ever went away. In 2012, the country was baking in temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and a heat wave going on for weeks.

The situation was so extreme, in fact, that France had declared a state of emergency. 

This was when I decided to visit my family in France, and I did so during this time.

The reason being is that I had heard that the conditions were so extreme that people were going insane, committing suicide and killing their families while they slept. 

That sounded like the stuff of fiction to me at the time but what I discovered was something else entirely.

During my visit, I decided to go into town one day

, about thirty minutes away by car from where my family lived. This small town was called Poitiers, located in the region of Poitou-Charentes.

It had about sixty thousand people living in it and was very quiet most of the time, considering it was such a small place with few people.

 I had some business to take care of, but things were not as I expected them to be when I got there.

It’s one thing for there to be an extreme

New French Extremity Cinema – Wrapping Up

Many people have been talking about the new French Extremity movement of horror cinema for a few years now, but in case you’re not familiar with it, let me give you a quick rundown.

 Image via SBS Films, New French Extremity is an umbrella term for a handful of European horror films between 2000 and 2010.

These movies are known for their shocking violence, black humour and gore. 

They also tend to be very stylish and beautiful, which is usually how I prefer my horror films.

The most famous titles are High Tension (2003), Inside (2007), Martyrs (2008) and Ils (2006).

 All of these films come from France, with varying levels of British involvement.

There are many more titles in this genre than the big four, and they vary quite a bit in style and tone. 

Nightwatch(2004) is a compelling werewolf tale set in the Russian wilderness, while Frontier(2007) is a bleak look at morality and drug addiction set in rural Norway that almost plays like a Scandi-Noir film.

Haute Tension director Alexandre Aja’s first English language film, The Hills Have Eyes remake from 2006, has a similar vibe to his home country’s.