Thursday, February 21, 2013

Film review: Atrocious

I’ve talked before about my love of the Spanish shaky-cam, found-footage film [REC], so I hoped that ATROCIOUS might be worth a watch, seeing as it’s also a Spanish film in that same style. Not that it makes sense logically, found footage movies from Spain are not automatically better for any particular reason, but the association was there, and the plot sounded promising, so once again I communed with the interlibrary loan gods to acquire another horror film.

In the end, I’m alright with spending that time on ATROCIOUS, but I can’t say it’s essential. It’s an average entry into the subgenre that may resonate more for some horror fans than others. I’m sitting smack dab in the middle of the road myself, but I don’t see there being much variation.

For one thing, I didn’t feel like I got to know the main characters that well. The two primary protagonists in this case are teen brother and sister Cristian and July, who are on vacation with their father, mother and younger brother Jose at the family countryside home. The two like investigating legends and ghost stories, so they look into a story about a little girl who is believed to lurk in the woods nearby the house. Their father forbids them to explore or film anywhere outside, so naturally, they continue to do so. Kids!

The brother and sister banter back and forth like siblings do, but in the end I still didn’t feel like I had a good grasp on who they were and what was worth caring about.

Much of the movie’s action happens in a garden labyrinth on the grounds of the house, just beyond a creepy locked gate. I liked the idea, but in reality got bored with the same old twists and turns and shrubbery after a while. The first kill is unfortunate, but a pet peeve of mine for more than just being predictable. After that the film kicks into action that doesn’t completely satisfy.

Don’t get me wrong, there were a couple of creepy moments or scares, but more often than not I would expect something to happen that didn’t. The tension would ramp up, my horror movie sixth sense would kick in, and then... nothing. Without that payoff, whether it’s the result I expect or not, the terror just deflates instead of either popping or hooking itself in your brain. Either way is fine by me, I like an immediate scare as well as the ones that hunker down inside and gnaw away at you, but you can’t keep setting up the viewer and not giving them the payoff.

I liked the ending, I thought it was creative and unexpected. I really wish they had played it up more, and I would have filmed and edited the last few scenes in a different way to enhance the creepiness of it.

All in all, it’s not bad and is worth seeing if you like this style of horror. But I wouldn’t put it as one of my favorites, either.

Atrocious via IMDB
Atrocious via Rotten Tomatoes
10 Best Spanish Horror Movies via Screen Junkies
Top Ten Best Found Footage Horror Movies via Forbes

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