Sunday, March 4, 2012

Atrocious (2010)


Written & Directed by Fernando Barreda Luna

Cristian...Cristian Valencia
July...Clara Moraleda

Cristian and July, a brother-sister team of urban legend investigators for an online video series, are forced to spend the Easter holiday at a secluded country home with their family. Luckily for them, the area where they will be staying isn't without an urban legend of its own.

In 1940, a young girl named Melinda got lost in the woods and was never heard from again. Supposedly, travelers who find themselves lost in the woods today will be visited by the girl, and she will show them the way.

Of course, there's a slight chance that Melinda is not quite as benevolent as this story makes her seem...

A bit of a slow-burner, the filmmakers develop suspense by layering the odd goings on one-by-one, rather than heaping them on you all at once--the discovery of a labyrinth just beyond the property line; strange noises at night; the family pet going missing; and it continues on from there.

I know, I know. Another "found footage" film. But there are two decidedly firm camps when it comes to this particular subgenre: those that love them, and those that don't. I have gone on record numerous times saying that I love them; I'm fucking enamored with them; when done properly, they affect me more than any other type of genre film.

Comparisons are inevitably going to be made to the Blair Witch Project--I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a found footage film that wouldn't be--but it actually has more in common with a lesser known movie called Evil Things, which was the Buzz of the Blogosphere a short time back. If you enjoyed that movie, I'd be willing to wager you're going to dig on this one too.

A few minor qualms: for as long as we spent with our two main characters, a lot of it downtime, I never felt as if we got to know much about them. It's a Spanish-language film, and whereas subtitles don't normally bother me, in this type of movie you might miss a key piece of action while reading. And finally, while I liked the ending, it seemed to come a little out of left field and a few subtle clues along the way would have made it more plausible for me.

Still, I was drawn into this movie immediately, and remained riveted for the duration. It got under my skin and stayed there for a while, a claim that only a few handfuls of films can make. It probably wasn't the smartest move for me to watch this alone late at night when I had to work the next day. But hey, I claim to be a lot of things. Smart isn't one of them.

Bottom line, Atrocious has a built in audience that may not even know of its existence. If you're a part of that audience, you know it already. If you're not, Atrocious isn't going to change your mind.

And come on, people.  Night vision makes anything spooky.  (Sorry, Paris.)

Rated R
75 Minutes
Spanish (English Subtitles)


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