By – Gareth Jones
For fans of extreme horror, thought-provoking commentaries on humanity, did I mention the gore?
(NOT RECOMMENDED TO EVERYONE – REALLY!)
This has been a stellar year for films from South American horror filmmakers. Earlier in the year I reviewed the excellent Brujeria from Chilean filmmaker Christopher Murray and now I have seen the sensation from Argentinian provocateur Demian Rugna. Both films deal with themes of colonialism and classism in their respective countries, but they also do it in very different ways. This is a prime example of the endless variety of storytelling in cinema.
Demian Rugna is not new on the horror genre scene. He has explored the genre in such previous films as Terrified, The Last Getaway, and a section of the portmanteau Satanic Hispanics. However, this film has moved his work to a higher level and into a new focus, garnering quite a bit of attention on the horror film festival circuit. This is very justified as it plays with the “possession” subgenre giving it new concepts and playing with tropes whilst providing commentary on the state of humanity. It is not a pretty picture by any standards.
The film begins with a bang, literally, as two brothers, Pedro and Jimi hear gunshots outside their farmhouse in a remote area of Argentina. The tension of the entire film is immediate and this grip will not leave. The brothers soon discover that the shots are connected to a “rotten”, a person possessed by a demon, or maybe infected is a better term. This reveal is one of many greatly disturbing images in the film. In this world, there is no more belief in God, so the role of what would have been a priest conducting an exorcism must now be done by a layman. Unfortunately, that person is cut in half outside the house of the “rotten.” Thus begins a descent into both a literal Hell and a psychological Hell. The influence of the demon forces people and animals to commit the most horrendous of acts. This includes violence by and towards children and animals. Fair warning.
Rugna does not let the audience rest at all throughout the film as we learn about rules that must be followed in order to stop the carnage. We question whether this is even possible as the nature of humans conflicts with this new reality. Much like the characters, you will not be allowed to look away from the atrocities. Of course, this is part of the commentary. Can we look away from the horrific acts we commit as a society? The rich against the poor, the colonialist versus the indigenous, and so on. As you can tell, this is a challenging film and one that I only recommend to those who are able to deal with these images and concepts. However, for those who want to see something that pushes the envelope on depictions of violence, this is a film for you.
Available to stream on Shudder
Written by: Gareth Jones
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