Director: Vicente Amorim
Starring: Carla Salle, Pablo Sanábio, Juliana Lohmann, Emílio de Mello, Guilherme Prates .Brazil . 1h 32m
The wonderful set up for this movie is filled with mysterious characters and a mythical folkloric wonderment that builds up Amorim’s film into a pensive dark thriller just to be doused by blood and sinew by the final scenes in what could have been the premiere gore soaked Brazilian thriller of the year.
Starting out with a strange sequence that see’s a young man creep into what seems to be an abandoned workshop, he finds a rare and valuable component on a bike being worked on and attempts to steal it, it burns a pattern into his hand as he’s literally caught red handed, a wisen old man rambles on about a fabled curse on those who are willing to steal for vanity and selfish reasons but a beautiful young woman eventually takes pity on him. But is it too late for him or is this a question of the soul.
Utilising a washed out pallet, so faded it would probably look better in black and white, and making the most of a desolate and somewhat beautiful landscape in the wastelands of Brazil, Amorim manages to successfully build a really isolated feeling which initially is filled with laughter as a group of friends head out on their trail bikes to kick back and have fun, but after finding an abandoned quarry to swim in, they slowly discover a beautiful stranger harbouring a secret and a machete wielding biker gang also have an agenda on todays playing field.
The thief is Hugo (Prates) and all he yarns for is a place within his brother Ricardo’s “biker gang” they aren’t necessarily all axe’s swinging a la Mad Max but they are a group of bike enthusiasts, Hugo tags along, still feeling like an outsider, and eventually a gorgeous girl named Paula (Salle) tags along, Hugo keeps stummed on the fact that he tried to steal from her earlier and the pair act like nothing happened despite a ton of knowing glances.
When the black clad bikers with machetes (sounds like a psychobilly band) turn up and start chasing the friends, the pace really picks up and turns quite frantic, the camera shots are feverishly thrown around from go pros to drones picking out weird angles. As the cat and mouse game turns deadly Ricardo’s gang begin to turn on themselves in desperation of survival. Slowly the deaths come in the form of drowning, burning, and decapitation, each one trying to be more gory than the last. Each step of the way more mysteries arise with only a sliver of an answer, which is soon rubbished in the next scene.
You’d have to be a hardcore fan of slashers, which is a theme that takes over the second half of the movie, to really enjoy that entire project, as the narrative leaks away with each kill. But without a solid premise it’s hard to really understand the point, as there’s so many open threads left by the closing scene, is this a story of redemption, a fever dream, it is just a matter of picking the wrong day to go for a ride? Despite their ferocity no one really seems bothered in killing Hugo, so is it an attempt to force him into solitude, if he stole to be part of a gang then are they simple taking away his reason to steal again? If it gave a tiny bite into any of these possibilities real or fantasy then it would really have been a great movie but it just phases out into a mist of nonsense which for me is a terrible let down as i really loved the spaced out desolate atmosphere as well as the brutal kills and technical ability
R: Mad Max (1979)
L: Biker Gang Films, A-Z Brazillan Cinema, 10 Favourite Decapitations