While most of the residents of a small Argentinian town attend a funeral procession following a tragic building collapse, the few who do not will face terrors of their own in this mashup of urban legends from brothers-filmmakers Sebastián and Federico Rotstein. Think bondage, torture, zombies…and governmental corruption. Hernán and Gabriela, are going to a motel without realizing that inside the room, behind the mirror, there is something waiting for them. Lucio and Paulo have a plan to swap girlfriends without realizing what will really happen. A group of friends are watching a snuff movie ignoring that the real terror is sitting next to them. Juan attends a date with Sonia thinking he is going to get laid, when he realizes that she has bigger plans for him. As their primal urges distract them all, local officials are judged innocent of the neglect that caused the building collapse—and then the horror really begins.
Terror 5 is an Argentinian horror anthology by brothers Sebastian and Federico Rotstein. As the title suggests, it is a compilation of five shorter featurettes which pride themselves on featuring sex, violence, vengeance, and snuff. If that sounds a little like a good exploitation film, that’s because it was acquired and is being released through our depraved friends at Artsploitation films.
If you pay any attention to international affairs, you’d know that Argentina has been dealing with yet another financial crisis, and most financial crises eventually turn political. Many exploitation films, like Hostel and A Serbian Film, claim themes of political dissent or having a political message—sometimes very hard to find amongst all the gore, blood and viscera. Terror 5 follows in those footsteps, claiming to be politically charged. To be fair, Terror 5 does a better job with this claim by actually showing unrest and protest, rather than hinting at hidden themes.
My initial plan was to review the film as a whole, without spoiling the particular stories that comprise the parts. It quickly became clear that this, unfortunately, was not an option. The first act switches between two stories, with the one dealing with the school events all but unfollowable. It’s a hot mess of a plot; a horny schoolboy fantasy that was hard to make sense of. The other story is the one that underpins all the others—the political backbone of the film.
The film jumps around a lot, introducing you to new characters and stories all taking place presumably at the same time. This makes it less of an anthology and more a movie of multiple narratives interwoven through the whole six degrees of separation idea. Thankfully, not all were as bad as the initial one; the motel scene was pretty intense and really well acted, as was the house party with Kiss-boy, Cherry and the ladies.
My main gripe would be a lack of cohesive storytelling as the plot develops. There are stories taking place, sure, but as a movie, it is like watching opening sequence after opening sequence. Three-quarters of the way through the film and you really have yet to figure out what the plot is exactly, who the important characters are, what they embody, and where the film is headed. There is plenty to take in—plenty for the senses; very little substance. It’s manic, it’s madness, it’s messy. There’s a lot going on with much of it trying very hard to be edgy without having that oh-so-important edge. I understood that there was a societal, political and ethical message that was being developed; the zombies, the shady politicians, the druggy, the snuff, the bullying—I was able to follow the themes as they aren’t exactly subtle, but I’m not sure if I really understood the message. I don’t know if that is my fault or that of the film.
Gripes out of the way, apart from the school scene and the iridescent zombies, it’s not a bad watch. I’d probably have preferred the film if it were edited like an actual anthology; telling each short story on its own rather than splicing them all together in no particular fashion. The actual hard-watch exploitation cinematography only happens towards the end of the film, with the house party and the motel, and is over pretty quickly. Interestingly, the directors don’t see the film as horror or exploitation at all, but actually as a drama. You can read their…unusual explanation below.
A bunch of people inmerse in their own world without realizing that everything else is falling apart. We were interested in exploring that idea through different situations almost happening on real time.
Then, we wanted to add an alteration, a strange and ambiguos time perception. And we wanted to explore it in the most cinematic way. A story told by the way it is shot by using narratives shots instead of descriptive ones.
Although it is called Terror 5, we didn´t apporach the stories as horror stories. We did it examinating each character and each behaiviour on a specific moment.”
Artsploitation Films will release the film this April 2nd on DVD and on several VOD platforms. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Catch the trailer, purchase details and the poster below.
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