March 28, 2013

Hidden in the Woods (2012)

(AKA "En las afueras de la ciudad")

"After their abusive father is jailed, two sisters being raised in a remote area of Chile find they have to answer to their uncle, a drug kingpin who wants his missing product back."

Yeah, I'm back again but only briefly. I've had another non-eventful birthday (apart from James Herbert dying on it!) last week, finally figured out how to turn off all the annoying random characters that were being added to the names of the images I uploaded to Photobucket, and I've been spending way too long playing on Twitter. Let's face it, as much fun as Twitter is, I'm primarily a blogger so I can't be confined to 140 character limits forever.

Anyway, I missed out on Patricio Valladares' "Hidden in the Woods" last year so I watched it yesterday. I can't say that I was overly impressed although it's certainly gory enough for most people and has a couple of nice-looking Chilean girls in it.

Thanks to "Hidden in the Woods", I had to look up where Chile was on the map. I always thought that Chile was an island somewhere near Portugal rather than a long, straggly country in South America so I learnt something. Geography has never been my strong point, but I had to Google where Chile was after watching this film so that I never accidentally go there. It's probably a great country, but this film makes it look like a horribly uncivilised place to be. There are too many trees and violently insane people living among them for my liking.

Siboney Lo as Ana

The real trouble with "Hidden in the Woods" though is that despite all the shock scenes and gore, it isn't so much a horror movie as just another rape-revenge, "faux-grindhouse", exploitation movie with a ludicrous crime story forced into the mix. I'm not a big fan of this subgenre and always fail to see the joke. That's assuming that this was put together as a bit of fun and not meant to be a serious drama. "Inspired by true events" doesn't seem that likely unless Chile really does contain so many rapists in its sylvan areas or have police even more useless than the ones in "Inside".

Paradoxically, acting and filming wise, "Hidden in the Woods" isn't a bad movie as such. It's obviously ragged in places, but it doesn't reek of someone trying to intentionally make a "so bad, it's good" abomination (although a few comic touches particularly during Ana's short career as a prostitute may make you wonder). I liked the gore effects and almost got into what Patricio Valladares was trying to do about two-thirds of the way through, but by then, it was too late. Homaging dozens of better horror movies (including "Spider Baby", "The Hills Have Eyes", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "Frontier(s)" and even "The Woman") isn't so clever when there's hardly any originality used elsewhere.

Having willingly suspended my disbelief during the schizophrenic tonal changes and poorly realised plot, I can't easily put my finger on why the story didn't work for me except that the lead female characters were either too flat or too inconsistent and didn't really evoke any kind of sympathy. It's pretty hard to sympathise with an inbred family of hillbilly cannibals anyway even if you imagine that the girls might clean up rather nicely. The men in this film are all one-dimensional and despicably vile as well.

Carolina Escobar as Anny

Basically, "Hidden in the Woods" is a misogynistic tale of murder, rape, incest, prostitution, cannibalism, drug dealers, torture, and even more rape and murder. If any of those combined elements interest you then knock yourself out. If you want to actually feel something for the victims in a mean-spirited movie then I recommend watching something else such as "I Spit on Your Grave" or "The Last House on the Left" (either the originals or the remakes). Even "A Serbian Film" has more pathos than "Hidden in the Woods".

The "Reservoir Dogs" ending just ruins any time invested in trying to get involved with the characters, thus leaving the experience unsatisfying and forgettable. In fairness, the characters are such damaged goods that no happy ending is possible, but it still feels like a cop-out especially with the clunky twist during the end credits.

Inevitably, there is already an American remake planned which will, surprisingly, also be directed by Patricio Valladares. With a few changes, it might be okay, but I highly doubt it.

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