TERROR 5 *** Argentina 2016 Dir: Sebastian Rotstein, Federico Rotstein. 78 mins
The mass casualty collapse of a Buenos Aires construction site causes public unrest as Congress thrash it out, the company CEO denies liability and 24/7 news coverage stirs up resentment and anger. Against this backdrop of potential societal collapse, this sharp-looking anthology movie unravels inter-linking individual stories. In the first, naïve young virgin Augusto Alvarez is drawn into a secret, teacher-punishing society for intelligent, disgruntled millennials thanks to the intervention of a confident, sexually active classmate (Lu Grasso). This neat spin on the torture movie leads into a riff on VACANCY, with Cecilia Cartasegna and Julian Larquier Tellarini eloping to a motel for a sex-a-thon that turns sour when a) she waxes lyrical about an awesome sexual experience that wasn’t with him and b) some snuff film merchants show up to film their passion. Elsewhere, a group of teens have the real-or-not debate as they settle down to watch alleged snuff pic “Total Terror In The Motel”; two horny teens hatch a plan to swap girlfriends; and an attempt on the life of the city’s controversial Mayor (Rafael Ferro) is thwarted by a city-wide zombie uprising.
Although not always cohesive, this joins a compelling cycle of international horror films unfolding in the midst of civil unrest and economic collapse. In this case, the climax is as much about one character’s despair and resignation for his country’s plight as it is a bloodbath. The central theme of the “haves vs the have-nots” is in the tradition of Reagan-era offerings from Carpenter, Craven and Yuzna, and is spelled out in no uncertain terms here – complete with a key authority figure’s dying words : “You rats are all the same!” Showcasing more explicit sex than you’d typically find in an American horror movie and moments of (literally) in-your-face violence, it’s good looking, has charismatic performances and showcases striking imagery: notably the glowing-eyed, shuffling undead riding a bus through the city. It ends on suitably subversive note of revolution, a significant and well-made horror portmanteau for our era of wildly unbalanced international politics.
Review by Steven West