Sunday, July 10, 2011

Nicolás Goldbart's Argentinian PHASE 7 joins AMC/BloodyDisgusting/The Collective's Night Terrors series

The nationwide, late-night, scare-movie series that's a joint venture of AMC theaters, BloodyDisgusting and The Collective continues its apparent decline in quality. From its opening film, Germany's surpri-singly fine zombie flick Rammbock, to the interesting, American-made, lost-in-the-woods fantasy/thriller from the USA, Yellow Brick Road, it has now arrived at the nearly worthless shoot-'em-up, gore fest from Argentina titled PHASE 7 (Fase 7 in its original Spanish) that asks the viewer "Is this a plague, conspiracy or end-of-times?"

TrustMovies isn't happy using a word like "worthless." He understands how much work, creativity, energy and, yes, love, are poured into so many small, independent films, from whatever country they come. Further, Phase 7 is the first film to be written and directed by a film editor of whose work TM is particularly fond: Nicolás Goldbart (The Paranoids, Rolling Family, The Bottom of the Sea, Crane World. Goldbart also edited his new one, but it's his abilities as filmmaker that I question. From a beginning that holds our interest and promises much, the film devolves into a repetitive, tiresome and occasional splatter-fest that goes nowhere and -- despite a running time of only 95 minutes, seems to take forever to get there, growing more annoying with each passing minute.

What appears at the outset like any number of plague/zombie movies (from [REC] to the recent Rammbock, a building is (officially or simply out of necessity by it tenants) quarantined, with those tenants having to fend for themselves regarding everything from food and water to shelter and safety. Fair enough. It's where Goldbart chooses to go with his version that so sucks.

The filmmaker tips his hand far too early and obviously that there may not be any virus, and when neighbor starts turning against neighbor, it's all too fast, foolish and frenetic to make much sense or point. Worse, he offers us absolutely no one to give a shit about, despite the talents of two of Argentina' top actors, Daniel Hendler (above, who spends way too much of this movie inside a "space suit") and Federico Luppi (below, right), who immediately goes nuts (maybe he was from the outset, but who knows -- or cares?). It helps, in this kind of genre film, to be able to root for someone. Here, you can't get rid of 'em fast enough.

The splatter, when it comes (off and on throughout), seems unduly gross, as though the producer had kept reminding the director, "Fifteen corpses with their heads blown off gets a theatrical release!" The film is often ugly and uninteresting to view, with the camera forever following this or that character (often in a face-obscuring protective suit) up & down hallways, into garages, and finally outside that damned, boring building -- all at a snail's pace.

Music by Guillermo Guareschi noticeably underscores what should be there but isn't, and the rest of the cast -- Jazmín Stuart (as Hendler's gal), Yayo (as the crazy but and well-prepared neighbor) and Carlos Bermejo and Abian Vainstein (as the building's bad guys) -- are capable to no avail. The good news? As a filmmaker, Señor Goldbart has nowhere to go but up.

Phase 7, which premiered at SxSW last March, will now be released at AMC theaters across 25 major U.S. cities, beginning this Wednesday, July 13. To find a city and theater near you, click here. Eventually, each of these films will find their way onto DVD and VOD. (Rammbock made its DVD/VOD debut a couple of weeks back, and Yellow Brick Road makes its on August 2.)

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