Argentinean director Adrian Garcia Bogliano's Cold Sweat starts off with some black and white footage that explain to us the background story of a revolutionary political group that, in 1975, stole a whole lot of dynamite, and that this dynamite was never found. Cut to the present day and a guy named Roman (Facundo Espinosa) is sitting in a little red car with a pretty girl named Ali (Marina Glezer), who is using a laptop to talk to 'a blonde guy' who lives inside the house they're parked out in front of. Through their conversation we learn that Roman's philandering girlfriend, Jacquie (Camila Velasco), has been talking to this same blonde guy and that a few days ago she went to meet him, never to be heard from again. Ali's chatting up the same guy in order to get entry into the house so that they can find Jacquie and get her out of there safely.
So, Ali heads inside and is promptly knocked out. She wakes up in the basement where another captive woman, topless and covered in some sort of clear goo, has her head promptly explode after not being able to solve a code scrawled on a blackboard by an old man with a walker. It turns out this old man and his chubby bearded partner (Omar Musa and Omar Gioiosa) have been using 'the blonde guy' to lure promiscuous ladies to their torture chamber where they've been forcing them to solve codes under the threat of being doused in a form of nitroglycerine. Yep, that's right, if they don't crack these odd codes, these guys blow the ladies up. When Roman realizes he can't get a hold of Ali, he makes his way into the house to save her. Of course, he finds Jacquie in there, but not before he frees Ali, who thanks him with a kiss. Jacquie, however, is slathered in nitro and it's going to be tough to get her out of there without blowing everyone sky high - Ali and Roman are going to try though, even if there is a horde of feral women being kept captive under the stairs and a few decidedly unfriendly coke dealers hanging out next door.
All of this happens very quickly and at just over eighty minutes in length, you can't fault the film's pacing. This comes at a cost, however, as the characters don't tend to be particularly well defined and don't always act in the most logical or believable of ways. The best example of this is Ali - while she's played well by the lovely Marina Glezer, the script calls for her to fall for Roman. Fair enough, he seems like a nice guy. But would she really be willing to help him find his cheating girlfriend, who he obviously still has feelings for, let alone put her life on the line to do so? Anything's possible, but it seems an unlikely choice given that pretty much everything else Ali does in the film is fairly logical and intelligent. Logic gaps like this are not uncommon in the film, and this takes things down a notch or two.
With that out of the way, if you're able to suspend your disbelief there's a fair bit to like about this movie. The three protagonists do fine with the material and the two antagonists steal the show, adding some welcome black humor to the mix with their constant bickering and unlikely evil tendencies. There are a few decent effects sequences here as well, and while it might not satiate those with a severe hunger for gore, there are a few spots, the slow motion finale specifically, that will make you stand up and take notice. The film also succeeds in crafting some genuine suspense and tension. When Roman has to get Jacquie out of the building while she's still covered in explosive gel, the film lays it on pretty thick and this scene in particular will definitely hold your attention with no problem whatsoever. Had the filmmakers put a bit more into the script, this would have ranked higher but even as it stands, Cold Sweat is a decent horror movie and one worth seeing even if it doesn't quite reach its potential.
Cold Sweat looks decent if not perfect in this 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer from Dark Sky Films. The lighter scenes show good detail, though there are times where you have to wonder if the colors have been intentionally dialed down just a little bit for effect. The darker scenes are a bit murkier, but otherwise, things hold up well - skin tones look lifelike enough, and detail is strong enough that you'll be sufficiently icked out by the gel dripping off of the girls' flesh.
A Spanish language option is provided in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and the mix is a good one, using directional effects really well to heighten suspense and to spread the guitar heavy score out nicely. Dialogue stays pretty clear throughout and the few explosions that occur in the film will give your subwoofer a nice little tickle. The subtitles are easy to read and free of any obvious typographical errors.
Director Adrian Garcia Bogliano kicks off the extras on this disc with an interesting audio commentary in which he lays bare his influences and his inspiration in regards to this film. He also does a good job of covering the technical side of things, the difficulties encountered during the shoot with both the sets and the effects, ideas that didn't make it into the film, budgetary issues and more - it's a pretty thorough track and quite interesting.
On the visual side of the supplements, there is roughly twenty-three minutes worth of deleted and extended material here, presented with time code. Most of it is fairly light but some more conversation between Ali and Roman before they go into the house helps flesh things out a bit and a few other scenes add more depth to the characters. There's also a ten minute Behind The Scenes featurette that offers up some fly-on-the-wall style footage of the cast and crew doing their thing on set (there's really no context or interviews here, it's just fairly random footage of people at work) and a five minute segment called Cold Blood in which director Bogliano explains to American audiences who may not be familiar with Argentinean history the true events that inspired this picture.
Rounding out the extras are a still gallery, a trailer for the feature, a teaser for the feature, a trio of TV spots, some radio spots, a comic book version of the story (that plays like a still gallery), animated menus and chapter selection. Promos for a few unrelated Dark Sky Films properties play before the main menu screen loads.
Cold Sweat isn't a perfect film and it doesn't quite live up to its insane potential, but it's entertaining enough, frequently quite suspenseful, and fairly well acted despite some questionable character motivations. The thin plot might put some people off, but the film does enough right in terms of visuals and ideas that it's worth a look. Dark Sky's DVD adds on a good selection of bonus features and offers up the movie with a good transfer and solid audio. Easily recommended for foreign horror movie fans, a solid rental for everyone else.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.