Members of the SFX and prosthetics team, Atelier 69, who also worked on Julia Ducournau’s grisly horror, Raw, take their practical work to abstract and unforgettable levels in this disturbing Argentinian creature feature. Sex, violence and self-loathing manifest in a hostile way in Alejandro Fadel’s mystifying and melancholic horror that takes its lead from David Lynch in its twisted dream logic and Twin Peaks style police investigation. There’s also an almighty whiff of Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession on display here too.
The gory opener shows a woman roaming between farm animals and open countryside, her neck bleeding and eventually gaping upwards and dropping off to the ground. Next, the nearby Andes mountains appear to take a deep breath before exhaling over the valley below. Something strange is taking over this small rural town where women are being beheaded and the men run scared claiming a ‘monster’ is responsible for all the killing.
Local police officer Cruz (Victor Lopez) heads up the investigation, which leaves a trail of gooey slime and blood behind. He spends his time doing sexy dances in bowling alleys and embarking on an affair with a lover who adores his wonky crimping. Eventually, she too is killed, and her husband, David, comes under scrutiny from Cruz. He’s sent to a psychiatric institute where a doctor questions him but his answers don’t make any sense as he babbles on about evil appearing in words and images.
This chilling and surreal examination of fear and repression is not for the queasy or faint-hearted and some may find its perplexing nature way too puzzling. The impressive growling sound design, demonic voices and misty landscapes provide fertile ground for menacing and disgusting acts of brutality to play out. Thankfully a knowing sense of humour occasionally cuts through all the darkness and soul searching and as the film seems to be relentlessly revelling in its indecipherable clues something extremely surprising pops up and rears its ugly head.