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Román and his friend Ali seek out his girlfriend Jackie in a dangerous zone in a suburb in Buenos Aires. Ali shows an old house and tells that Jackie had met a blonde guy that she found in Internet, and now she had been invited to have dinner with him. Román waits in the car while Ali enters the house. When Román suspects that something is wrong, he breaks in the house and finds two old men torturing a young woman in a room in the basement and Ali tied with nitroglycerin in her front head. Román neutralizes the nitro and releases his friend. Then he decides to seek out Jackie in the place while Ali tries to leave the house and call the police.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This was a film that I believe I heard about on a podcast as well as it was listed in a horror film encyclopedia. I decided to check it out as part of my research into this genre. I came in quite blind, which is my most preferred method for horror films. The official synopsis is Román (Facundo Espinosa) and his friend Ali (Marina Glezer) seeks out his girlfriend Jackie (Camila Velasco) in a dangerous zone in a suburb in Buenos Aires. They get more than they bargained for in their search.
We kick this film off with a little bit of back-story. It appears that back in the 1970's there was political unrest in Argentina. There was a group that was trying to overthrow the government and in retaliation there was a group that was anti-communist. The anti-communist group was quite violent and had to disband. Before they did, some crates of dynamite were stolen and not heard from again.
The film then abruptly shifts to a couple in a car. They are Román and Ali. From what we gather, she likes him, but they are searching for his ex-girlfriend. They were having some issues, but he still cares about her. There are feelings for Ali was well. The last thing that was told to them was Jackie met a blonde guy and they were leaving the country together. Ali finds online a house that sent an e-mail from the same IP address as the last one from Jackie. Ali goes inside and finds a young man, but he doesn't seem to have arms. She's hit on the head.
Román gets out of the car to help an elderly man across the street and starts to ask around about the house he just helped the man into. He also goes inside to find that things aren't really as they seem. The old man he helped inside is blind in one eye and walks with a walker. He has another man living with him who is overweight. Ali is taken hostage and she isn't the only one. These men seem to be professional at this and the dynamite from earlier has been used for a liquid that keeps these people from fleeing. They will now try to get out of this ordeal alive, but the longer they're there, the darker secrets they uncover.
Much like how I started this review, I really like the back-story of this film. In 2018 I went to a film festival where they showed a film from South America that started around the same time as this one did, in that during the political unrest times where communism was really catching hold. It seems like it created a lot of problems in the country, but a lot more of it from the Right Wing groups that were dead set on punishing them. We get throughout the film the two old men when they were younger and we see they are psychopaths. They also looked like they could have been secret agents as well.
I will say that the start of the actual narrative to this film was a bit clunky. I was a little confused as to why Román and Ali were there. The story did catch my interest pretty quickly and then I caught up to it. This film almost has a Saw feel to it where there are kind of traps set-up. I'm not entirely sure what the two men are out to do and why they are doing what they are, but it carries a creepy feel throughout the film. The use of acid and nitroglycerin is quite creative.
The last aspect of the story to cover is something else I wanted to expand on. The stakes definitely get raised in that if this liquid drips off, it will explode. Now I do know that nitro is volatile, but I wasn't sure if it was as much as this film is claiming. The film recovers in that the one-eyed old man says he's experimented with it, so I'll let it slide. There is a tense scene where someone is covered in it and I really liked that though.
Pacing of this film is really good as well. The film has a runtime of 80 minutes. It jumps right in giving us the necessary back-story and then getting right into the film itself. I happened to look at the clock at the 1 hour mark and was shocked I was that far into it. It kept my attention all the way to that point. There are some things I had issue with in the film itself, but I liked how it played out. The ending was quite fitting for things that have happened earlier.
Acting for the film was something that was pretty solid as well. Espinosa I thought was solid. He isn't great and I don't necessarily buy into him as the hero. I think the film really plays up that the three leads all shares it, so I think that is part of the reason as well. Glezer I liked as well. She is more of the quirky girl. She likes Román, but knows who he has feelings for. She is there for him when she needs him and helping to find Jackie. Velasco is also solid. We don't see her for some time, but she is probably the character with the most change of these three. We also get to see her topless and in panties, which doesn't hurt the film at all. The two villains were solid. I thought having them be old gives an interesting dynamic, especially with a chase that happens in the film. It is fitting for the back-story as well. There are also a group of punks and women in this film that both round out for what was needed.
Something that wasn't so good was the effects for the film. I thought they did some practical, which were fine. We get some blood and some aftereffects of things that happen to people. The problem though was the CGI that was used. I know there are a couple explosions that it just doesn't hold up and it took me out of the film. The film was shot beautifully other than that though.
Now with that said, I enjoyed aspects of the film. I really like the back-story. It is an area I don't know a lot about when it comes to history, but it interesting with the political climate in America currently. The film is a bit jarring early on. It does settle in with a solid concept and I like where it goes. The pacing is good and it builds tension. I thought the acting was solid across the broad. Practical effects in the film were also good, but there weren't enough of them. The CGI doesn't hold up and it took me out of the film. The score of the film didn't really hurt or help the film, so I'll stay neutral as it didn't stand out. I would like to know more and feel this film could have added a bit more of plot, but regardless I found this to be above average. If this sounds interesting, I'd give it a viewing for sure
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