WHAT THE WATERS LEFT BEHIND (a.k.a. Los Olvidados) *** Argentina / New Zealand 2018 Dir: Luciano Onetti, Nicolás Onetti. 93 mins.
“We lost it all and nobody came to help us. They let us die in oblivion…” The aftermath of all-too-real 21st century natural disasters looms over this brutal Argentinian homage to THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. It wears its influences on its sleeve but makes haunting use of location and a simmering sense of rage at the world which ignored the plight of its residents.
Villa Epecuen was a once-thriving tourist village in Buenos Aires rendered uninhabitable in 1985 by the worst floods in the history of the Argentine republic. A traditional slasher-bait camper van full of sexy young city folks are making a documentary about the floods, inevitably stopping off enroute at a gas station where the rest rooms are disgusting, and a lecherous stranger masturbates to VHS aerobic tapes. A warped family, complete with a Leatherface-inspired “freak” represent an extreme vision of the real-life economic ruin faced by those consumed by the disaster. Much about the movie is routine, from the abundant eye candy (almost all the protagonists look like underwear models) to the umpteenth replay of TEXAS CHAIN SAW’s unsurpassed dinner table sequence. Rape, severed limbs, cannibalism and men in cages are all present and correct. And yet, the location is overwhelmingly evocative, lending enormous production value and atmosphere, and the first hour captures a simmering sense of dread.
Review by Steven West