Director/cowriter Adrian Garcia Bogliano's self-conscious throwback to the kind of gritty black-and-white gore films that used to play drive-in theaters and urban grind houses is a short, sharp shocker that gets surprising mileage out of the oldest formula in the book of the dead. Two teenagers, high-strung Theda (Elena Siritto), who's plagued by nightmares of a masked man and a mutilated woman, and student Elena (Jimena Kroucco), meet on a bus en route to isolated, small-town San Ramon, where they're supposed to catch a train to Trinidad. When they disembark, they meet three other girls — flighty Ruth (Brenda Vera), aspiring filmmaker Silvia (Mariela Mujica) and punky Lydia (Victoria Witemburg) — all with the same itinerary. The town is almost deserted because everyone's at Wednesday-afternoon church services, so they make a quick stop at the local general store and walk to the train station, catching a glimpse of creepy preacher Horacio (Oscar Ponce) conducting an exorcism as they pass the church. An unwelcome surprise awaits them: The train came through early, and they're stranded in this unsettling backwater until tomorrow morning. Fortunately, brothers Nestor (Rolf Garcia Puga) and Maxi (Jose Santiago) operate a bed-and-breakfast in the rambling house they inherited from their mother, and the stationmaster (Abel Ponce) suggests the girls stay there. Dinner is an uncomfortable affair; they're joined by Horacio, who shares his draconian notions of guilt and retribution with the young women, and when they return to their rooms, they're all spooked by strange noises and menacing shadows. Then the screaming starts: Someone hacks Silvia to death, and the other four scramble to find a way out after realizing that the windows are bricked up and all the doors are locked from the outside. The scares are standard-issue but well executed; the blood flows freely, and the underlying motivations of both the victims and the victimizers are unusually well thought out. Bogliano, himself only 19 when he and his brother Ramiro began work on their debut feature, makes the most of his limited resources, and this spare, downbeat shocker shows considerable promise within the scope of its own modest ambitions.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: NR
- Review: Director/cowriter Adrian Garcia Bogliano's self-conscious throwback to the kind of gritty black-and-white gore films that used to play drive-in theaters and urban grind houses is a short, sharp shocker that gets surprising mileage out of the oldest formula… (more)