Monday, April 13, 2015

los ultimos dias [2013]

an interesting spanish horror film.  it is 2013; marc is overworked and is on the verge of being fired from his job.  his girlfriend, julia, wants to have a child.  they argue.  he leaves for work.  the city is bustling.  a coworker is in the process of getting sacked.  marc is told that this man had not left the office in several weeks.  he had been living there.  two security guards physically escort the man out of the building.  the man is panicked.  when he is thrust outdoors in seizes.  marc runs to his aid.  but the man has died.

soon everyone in the city is afflicted with THE PANIC.  if someone goes outside they die.  barcelona falls to ruin.  marc left julia.  he needs to return to julia.  marc enlists the help of the hatchet man of the office.  the rest of the story is one of great peril.  people organize into tribes for survival.  food and water are scarce.  outside barcelona is a ghost town.  inside the buildings, sewers and subways it is mob rule.

i am unfamiliar with the directors, brothers david and alex pastor.  the cast is game.  the theme of mass agoraphobia with attendant immediate death if one does venture outside is fascinating on its face.  marc's love for julia is his single redeeming quality.  before that he was just an overworked, superficial jerk.  still, the pastors' do little with their theme.  i don't need an explanation why THE PANIC exists.  i do need to know how people deal with it in greater depth.  instead the pastors shot a road show with a buddy chaser.  two misfits learn to work together and trust each other for their mutual survival.  but even the relationship between marc and the hatchet man [the guy who does the firing for management], enrique, is rather shallow.  these two men are thrown together and then become coevals.  they are not.  their work together is false.  their professed love for another is not believable.

but then so what.  for the pastors are trying out larger themes.  i think.  the ending had me scratching my head too.  i thought, what?!  that's it?!  the larger themes are how brittle the bonds of society and how easily those bonds can break.  what does it mean for urban dwellers when they can no longer go outside?  what sort of government will these people create?  how does one procure food and water?  what do you do with your waste?  why is there THE PANIC?

it is not always the place for horror movies to answer the questions it derives for their themes.  but the better horror films will create an utterly believable world to explore and exploit our collective fears.  the pastors made an interesting film but an imperfect one.  the world they created is a strange one but it does not give goosebumps.  a serious, but unscary horror flick is indeed the more scarier for it being so.     



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