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ATROZ Limited Edition
Atroz means 'atrocious' in the Spanish language, and no matter how you slice it, (or who you slice, I suppose) Lex Ortega's entry into "Offensive Horror Movie" sweepstakes ranks right up there near the top. The reasons are multifold: things done to people, how and why they're done, and what we're shown. However, Ortega doesn't miss the most important beat of all in crafting a hard-to-take movie; complete moral free-fall. Viewers can't tell which characters are completely awful, and which are to be remotely sympathized with. In the lottery of movies you're not sure you ever want to see again, the most potent are the ones which cut you adrift in a sea of violence and offal. For that, Atroz is a serious contender.
Ortega drops us right into the thick of it, with scabrous scenes of the mean streets of Mexico City, one of the world's largest. Stacks of trash and cardboard, transvestite hookers, film-credits cleverly disguised as graffiti, and a pedestrian run over by a couple of thugs, brains spilling out into the streets. It gets worse quickly, and by my count crosses the line at 11-minutes into the movie. I won't describe exactly what atrocity offended my delicate sensibilities, but I'll say it's both cruel and disgusting. And so the movie goes.
Ortega constructs Atroz as a time-shifting, found-footage/traditional movie. It's pretty audacious in that, and can be tough to follow. The mere fact that you need to strap yourself in pretty tightly to fully grasp the action makes all the killing, raping, stabbing and combinations thereof that much more effective. The found footage is in the car of the creeps who ran over the pedestrian. On it, a violent cop finds brutal evidence of the killing of a transvestite prostitute. Why do the killers take out so much fury on the hooker? Why is the cop so interested in breaking the bad guys? All will be revealed, through old video, and contemporary footage. It isn't pretty, and Ortega fair stomps on and cuts up anything that might offend any particular viewer. If you're looking to be offended, just back away slowly.
Sometimes using quick-cut techniques, sometimes lingering, unbelievable POV shots, Ortega takes the gore, violence, hatred and anger way over the top. The movie isn't a wall-to-wall bloodbath, but it more than makes up for it with reprehensible characters. Not unlike the worldviews presented in Cannibal Holocaust and A Serbian Film, Ortega seems to present the notion that pretty much everyone in the universe is a scumbag of one stripe or the other. The ironic thing is that for brief moments the main villain becomes quite sympathetic. The other irony is that Ortega himself plays the killer, in maximum badass mode,, and yet despite the scowling, he just looks like a really nice guy. The kind of gentle tough-guy you'd like to have a few beers with.
By the movie's end, Ortega's plot has gotten a little too nutty, but I guess it's a nice way to exit a movie in which a person's most reliable method of self-expression is through anal rape. Full of brutal violence, stomach-churning gore, and unflinching portrayals of reprehensible characters, Lex Ortega's Atroz more than lives up to its title. I'm not sure how effectively it tackles the culture of murder and masculinity in Mexico, but it certainly gets its hands dirty doing so. Inveterate gore hounds with a social conscience will find this 3-disc set from Unearthed Films Highly Recommended.
Released in a 1.85:1 ratio, (with sequences throughout in other aspect ratios) Atroz runs the presentation gamut. The movie switches formats with impunity, from old VHS home movies to HD, with the appropriate accompanying changes in visual fidelity. It all looks as it's supposed to, with the more movie-like sequences looking quite crisp and detailed. Colors vary accordingly as well, but wind up fairly natural under the harsh lighting conditions of many of the sequences. Stylized tape-squelches, dropouts and frozen frames appear to accentuate the action from time-to-time.
Coming in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Audio in Spanish, Atroz creates an immersive mix. Dialog and sound effects are given plenty of space and action to draw you in. Ominous and pulsing music by JH5 and Eggun gets as much attention as any other aspect of the movie, is mixed aggressively, with the mid-range up front. Overall, a fine sounding presentation.
Extras in this tri-fold digi-pack set include an hour-long Soundtrack CD to make you uneasy while you work, and a DVD Copy of the movie. Ortega contributes a Commentary Track in Spanish and English. About an hour's worth of extras are included as well, most in the form of 4 - 5 minute EPK-style interviews with the principals to the movie. The best of these features the movie's composers decked-out in disturbing costumes. First, though, is the Original Short Film, a 15-minute version of the movie's opening sequence. You also get a Crowdfunding Video as well as Behind The Scenes bits for Production, Music & Sound, and Practical Effects. An Image Gallery and half-a-dozen really juicy Unearthed Trailers finish things off.
Full of brutal violence, stomach-churning gore, and unflinching portrayals of reprehensible characters, Lex Ortega's Atroz more than lives up to its title. I'm not sure how effectively it tackles its central themes of sexual intolerance and the worthlessness of life, but it certainly gets its hands dirty doing so. Inveterate gore hounds with a social conscience will find this 3-disc set from Unearthed Films Highly Recommended.