Pharmacist, The (2003)


Pharmacist, The  AKA Le Pharmacien de Garde (2003)
Cast: Vincent Perez, Guillaume Depardieu, Clara Bellar
Director: Jean Veber
Nutshell: Grisly tale of the “Green” serial killer bumping of polluting scumbags in style!


This French serial killer entry gives a chilling new meaning to the term “green militancy”, taking the idea that dedicated “Green’s” can develop a very nasty edge when it comes to grinding their axe in support of the cause.

The film presents its serial killer as a Green pushed to the extremes by his relentless, obsessive pursuit of his cause – ridding the world of polluting scum as in a tobacco conglomerate, the face of a cosmetics firm using animals to test their garish products. Our madman is a charismatic pharmacist (by day!) who has set in motion his killer plan to devastating effect as corpses start appearing all over Paris – deaths caused by wildly exotic cocktails of deadly potions diligently prepared by the green psycho in his ecological haven – a lab he has built in an elaborate basement in the heart of Brittany, an area he eventually hopes to develop as a sanctuary from all things artificial.

Basically, it’s the classic serial killer motive of ridding the world of “scum” – but where normally one would associate the term with prostitutes, pimps, paedophiles and drug lords – this time it’s not a sexual motive that is the driving urge. It’s a drive to cleanse and purge the world of all the modern-day power-players bent on turning their back on nature for a fast buck.

The troubled cop floundering on the killer’s trail is himself viciously opposed to the ecological breakdown at the hands of money minting corporations and has his own demons to exorcise along the way – a miserably failed romance being just one of them. His own psychological problems cloud his ability to focus on the case he is assigned to and he remains continuously three or more steps behind the wild-eyed and canny killer – constantly having to play catch up.

The movie never really manages to get beyond second gear at all and the tension never really mounts beyond a certain level. The killings are novel enough but appear outlandish and most implausible especially the occasion when our bristling environmentally obsessed lunatic despatches a posse of CGI butterflies through the Paris skies – deadly butterflies trained and honed to perfection in order to achieve their hideous ends with chilling precision. Rather than feel any horror at the unfolding mayhem caused by the killer butterflies one ends up stifling a major giggling fit.

The film is not entirely silly though and manages to entertain to a point but is never gripping enough or plausible enough to offer any real tension or horror. The acting is hammy with the killer going especially overboard almost bordering on camp. A French “green” twist on the Se7en thing this film fails to convince, scare or thrill.