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When a carefully mutilated corpse is found near a small town in the French Alps, hard-boiled police detective Pierre Niemans (prince of the Gallic tough guys, Jean Reno) is dispatched from Paris. He quickly determines that the body was sliced and diced to make a point and that this point will lead both to additional victims and to the secretive university that dominates the area. Along the way, he meets Fanny Ferreira (Nadia Fares), who’s sort of an all-purpose female character: guide to local customs and topography, potential love interest, and possible suspect. Meanwhile, policeman Max Kerkerian (Vincent Cassel), who was recently assigned to a nearby town, investigates the desecration of the crypt of a girl who died 20 years before. Kerkerian’s case will soon overlap Niemans’, and the latter will grudgingly accept the younger man as a partner in his search for the ritualistic killer. Mathieu (Hate) Kassovitz’s fourth feature, adapted by the director and Jean-Christophe Grange from the latter’s novel, is darkened by the shadows of fascism, a familiar subject in Kassovitz’s work as both a director and an actor. Still, it’s primarily an opportunity to make a slick body-parts thriller in the mode of Hollywood flesh-mincers such as The Silence of the Lambs and Seven. The director makes skillful use of his large (by French standards) budget and dramatic locations, which include lots of dim, spooky interiors as well as hazardous cliffs, glaciers, and ice caves. The plot is too contrived by half, though, and Kassovitz matches low light to high sound: Both Bruno Coulais’ melodramatic score and the various sound effects are distractingly overamped. The din is so earthshaking that you’ll wonder why the avalanche doesn’t arrive an hour earlier. —Mark Jenkins