by Jason Coffman
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Argentinian filmmaker Adrián García Bogliano has caught the eye of the international horror film community over the last few years, first grabbing U.S. attention when Strand Releasing issued his film Rooms for Tourists (2004) on DVD in 2006 and reinforcing his reputation with the rape-revenge film I’ll Never Die Alone in 2008 (although the latter has yet to see an official U.S. release). After a successful run on the festival circuit, Dark Sky Films picked up Bogliano’s Cold Sweat for his highest-profile American release yet, and it will not disappoint horror fans looking for something a little different to go with their gore.
Román (Facundo Espinosa) enlists his friend Ali (Marina Glezer) to help him find his ex-girlfriend Jacqueline, who left him for someone she met online and then disappeared. Ali befriends the same guy Jacqueline fell for and arranges a meeting with him at his home, a large but run-down house next door to some unpleasant characters. Once inside, Ali quickly discovers the situation is not what she expected, and after she doesn’t return or answer his calls, Román goes in after her by sneaking around the back of the building.
Román stumbles upon the shocking truth by accident very quickly. Two old men, supposedly revolutionaries who stole several crates of dynamite back in the 1970s, have been kidnapping young women after luring them in over the internet. They then perform experiments on the women before disposing of them, and Ali is next on the schedule. Román manages to free her, but is determined not to leave the house until he finds out what has happened to Jacqueline. Ali and Román sneak through the house, trying to avoid the old men and find a way out, while Bogliano occasionally drops in a flashback to the younger days of the villains.
Cold Sweat is packed with tense situations and Bogliano wrings a good amount of thrills out of many of them, but the overly busy soundtrack unfortunately sometimes overshadows the on-screen action. There are a number of scenes that would be much more intense without the constantly pounding score, although in other scenes the unusual sound design works very well in helping ratchet up the tension. Bogliano also certainly does not skimp on the gore: there are exploding heads and ugly wounds aplenty. The film packs a few nasty surprises, a few of which are elegantly tied in to the flashbacks with a cool visual trick. Cold Sweat is definitely not lacking in visual style, with Bogliano deftly using slow motion, extreme close-ups and effective make-up and effects to help keep things interesting.
Clocking in at a brief 80 minutes, Cold Sweat is a tightly-wound thriller that manages the rather difficult trick of making two old men seem like valid horror-film villains. Bogliano explains in one of the DVD extras how he drew on actual Argentinian history for the idea of their characters, and without that information the importance of their characters’ history may be lost on U.S. audiences. Still, there’s no denying that Bogliano knows how to play the audience and deliver slick low-budget thrills. Despite the sometimes overbearing soundtrack, Cold Sweat is a unusual take on some standard horror film territory and is well worth a look. Bogliano clearly has style to burn; here’s hoping next time he reins it in just a little and lets the visuals speak for themselves a bit more.
Dark Sky Films released “Cold Sweat” on DVD 17 January 2012. Special features include director’s commentary, deleted and extended scenes, a “behind the scenes” featurette, post gallery, comic book gallery, trailer, teaser, and radio and TV spots.
Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He writes reviews for Film Monthly and “The Crown International Files” for Criticplanet.org as well as contributing to Fine Print Magazine (www.fineprintmag.net).
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