Thursday, 30 August 2012



If I'd written a script that was crammed chock full of rape, incest, brutality, bloody violence and a level of general misanthropy that would startle the Daily Mail, I would expect to have enormous difficulty getting it financed through state funding, and would probably have to abandon the project or obtain the money straight from people who like that sort of thing. Incredibly, however, Patricio Valladares has somehow managed to get his staggering parade of depravity and sadism part-funded by the Chilean government! (I have no idea what that says about Chile, though.) One seriously doubts our present Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, would cough up a few hundred grand of already stretched public money to produce something like this.

Hidden In The Woods is a dispiriting and tiresome piece of nastiness in which two sisters (named Anny and Anna: not just wildly unimaginative but I have no idea which was which) are repeatedly raped by their drug-dealer father (who'd already murdered their mother); one of them gives birth to a disfigured and handicapped boy who's kept chained up in the shed. Then two cops show up and the father promptly murders them; the sisters and the boy run off into the woods and the father ends up in jail (after murdering someone else at a bus station for no good reason). But the local drug kingpin wants his merchandise back - and maybe the girls know where it is....

The two sisters are only there to be beaten, raped and abused as sexual victims - one supports the unorthodox family unit by performing oral sex for money in the nearby village, at which point the film actually includes a blowjob montage, something that no film needs (although I'd kill for a similar sequence to be included in the next syrupy Hollywood romcom). The male characters don't fare any better: with the sole exception of the disfigured son, they're all brutes, drug dealers, killers, rapists and/or any combination of the aforementioned. No-one comes out of Hidden In The Woods at all well - even the cops are blundering imbeciles who fail to shoot a drug dealer approaching them with a running chainsaw and get needlessly killed as a result. Oh, and if that wasn't enough the girls are cannibals for no adequately explored reason.

Hidden In The Woods has an undeniable grubby grindhouse energy to it - Valladares puts the pedal down and keeps the hysteria going full tilt the whole time; the soundtrack has a constant clanging that I guess harks back to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the movie hardly slows down for a bit of exposition, character detail or just to catch its breath. Not only does it have absolutely no subtlety to it, it has no humour and it has no art, so it's incredibly difficult to like or even admire. There's also the question of whether it would pass the BBFC without the need for the scissors, in the event of someone deciding to distribute it in the UK (one hopes the potential audience for lethally unerotic Chilean exploitation cinema is too small to be bothered with).

Whether the film is actually based on true events as it claims doesn't bother me half as much as the news that the English language remake rights have been snapped up, apparently by Michael Biehn of all people. At least that version won't have the subtitles spelled all wrong in the way of early Hong Kong Heroic Bloodshed movies, as they are here, but it's still going to have to be radically adapted to appeal to anyone other than utter sociopaths with an apocalyptic disregard for human life and no sense of humour. Easily the least enjoyable film at this year's FrightFest.


1 comment:

Gruesome Twosome said...

Sorry I had an typo in the 1st post .... back to what I typed - I think the fact it got government funding should be applauded .. that's it one redeeming feature - the film maker pulled the wool over enough people's eyes... you say there was no humour but that overlooks the two backpackers who before they turn into rapists enjoy a couple of farts in the face mixed with homophobia banter ... I agree though a truly despicable film that maybe, just maybe was lacking any sophistication because Chilean entertainment passes for that even in 2012 ... certainly the film makers giggles and guffaws on stage were more Benny Hill than Tarantino ... and didn't he say he liked filming boobs ... I'm not sure what the english speaking version with bring unless a new script is part of the deal