| August 13, 2013

A group of people come together while on vacation in Chilé.  Gringo (Eli Roth, serving as actor, producer, and co-director on the film) is visiting friends in Chilé when the three of them meet three girls and they all start going to parties and having fun.  Suddenly, the area they’re in is hit with a massive earthquake, and pandemonium breaks out.  The survivors have to find some place safe to wait out the tragedy, which proves nearly impossible as fate seems to be conspiring against them.

I didn’t know what to expect going into this one.  The name Eli Roth doesn’t excite me the same way it does other horror fans.  I think he’s a competent director, and he’s good with realistic horror and special effects, but I haven’t seen anything from him that makes me think he’ll be remembered as one of the all time greats of the genre.  However, I would say that this is my favorite of the movies I’ve seen of his, and I don’t know how much of that credit goes to the other director, Nicholás López, because he traditionally makes romantic comedies, but maybe it’s that human touch here that makes this so much more effective than Roth’s Hostel.  It’s difficult to articulate what’s so effective about this.  It is definitely not predictable, with every little twist along the way coming as a legitimate surprise to me.  Without any predictability, it’s difficult to achieve any sense of inevitability because there’s no dramatic irony as the audience is kept in the dark throughout the film.  It’s all really well done, and I think the best way to characterize the film being inevitable without ever feeling like it is “hopelessness.”  There is a distinct hopelessness to the story once the earthquake hits.

Now, this is far from perfect.  Some of the torment that different characters go through feels like it comes from a place of shock value, rather than any sort of character-driven place.  In other words, there are times when character is sacrificed for a decent horror moment.  Also, a couple of the deaths feel like they’re straight out of Final Destination, rather than being grounded in a completely realistic setting.  These flawed moments are few and far between, and mostly the film flows nicely and the horror elements that stay true to the characters and the world are exceptionally crafted.

The three male characters are very well rounded and well acted by the cast here.  They each have idiosyncrasies that make them unique and interesting throughout.  The girls on the other hand are borderline archetypes, which is disappointing.  We have the sly model character (Natasha Yarovenko), the vapid party girl (Lorenza Izzo), and her over-protective older sister (Andrea Osvárt).  The actresses do the best they can with these characters, who seem to have no tangible wants to pursue, but ultimately they’re presence in the film can’t help but fall a bit flat because the characters aren’t being developed in the same way as the men.

Special features include two behind the scenes featurettes, and an audio commentary.  Available now from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.

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